The ENCAP project overall objective is to prevent the transmission of HIV and other infections in high-risk group and bridging population in project area. Whereas project purpose is to develop and strengthen specially targeted network of LTCs for HIV/AIDS prevention among IDUs and bridging population in the project area by addressing issues of awareness on HIV and other infections and decreasing risk behaviour of target groups.
The specific project objective is to strengthen and develop the specially targeted networking for HIV/AIDS prevention among IDUs and bringing population in the Project Area.
• The development and strengthening of two effective networks for coordinated action on HIV/AIDS prevention and harm reduction. The ultimate objective of building partnerships and developing their professional capacities on various levels is targeted at a number of key elements, such as surveillance, monitoring and research, prevention, care and support to tackle the threat of epidemics. The activities of the project will be carried out through transnational network and Low Threshold Centres (LTCs) network, which will cater both for IDUs and bridging populations in conjunction with other local specialists from the primary health care, social workers and others.
• Transnational network among project partners and other relevant actors in project countries is set up to tackle the threat of epidemics by performing comparative research, development of common surveillance indicators, pooling together of available professional expertise, following the infection migration routes, proposing joint legislation initiatives etc. Open borders and easy migration possibilities together with noticeable difference in prevalence figures between various territories emphasize necessity for international cooperation and coordinated action in the field. International network of “old”, “new” and candidate countries demonstrates possibility to develop cooperation model which could be a role model and as such could be further used elsewhere. The network is built up on international and intersectoral bases and operates in wider socio-economic context.
• The LTCs in the Baltic States work together to introduce qualitatively and quantitatively enhanced services and to address issues of awareness on HIV, other blood born infections and to decrease risk behaviour of the defined target groups. This network is strengthening public health system capacity and is contributing to the establishment of coordinated and fully corresponding to the needs of the target groups’ action of health, education and social services. This net tackles issues of integration on approaches on lifestyles and works with different health determinants. Development of both networks is in line with the set priority areas for the Community action foreseeing encouragement and support to the development of actions and networks for gathering, providing and exchanging information and good practices, promoting and supporting effective networks and linking actions to the policy priorities in the field of AIDS and targeted at the young people.
In 2006, the majority of newly identified HIV infected people in the project area remain to be IDUs. This is very young population of 15 – 25 year old people. Dangerous is the tendency that other characteristic way of HIV transmission is heterosexual and as such increases the transmission from IDUs into the general population. Described situation certainly demands to include in the prevention activities the bridging population: regular sexual partners of IDUs, pregnant IDUs, sex workers and others. It should be emphasized that understanding the practices, trends, risk behaviour and life skills both of the core and bridging populations is vital to make the surveillance and prevention work targeted and effective. It calls for ongoing data gathering and analysis, done on a sound methodological base, allowing insights about the practices of local drug-using communities and bridging populations. Awareness of the general population of safe behaviours is essential, above all that HIV transmission routs are changing and hence a non-IDU cannot be anymore safe unless certain precautions become habitual. Working together with IDUs and bridging population secondary HIV secondary prophylaxis is effectively backed up with primary prevention. This work should be carried out at the local level, as close to clients as possible. Support to the development of actions and networks for gathering, providing, analyzing and exchanging information and good practice in order to contribute to the development of policies, strategies, measures and work plans is crucial for the success and it is the main objective of this particular project and its activities.
Several population groups are regarded as project beneficiaries showing the overall importance of the issue and the necessity to build up international networks and national public health systems” capacities to tackle the problem in the project area:
• Intravenous drug users, disregarding their ethnic, gender or age variety. Especial effort will be made to reach a younger population, possibly using drugs for recreational purposes.
• The bridging populations: sexual partners of IDUs hard-to-reach pregnant IDUs, sex workers and others.
• General society.
The project is planned to end with the two main result groups:
• Established transnational network among project partners and other relevant actors in the Baltic States and partner countries able to tackle the threat of epidemic, incl. established and maintained web-page for increased communication among Net partners and making info available for other interested parties,
• Developed LTCs Net ensuring appropriate integration between health and social primary care to promote risk reduction and to facilitate access to the services, including:
– Implemented research on HIV/ AIDS and other infections among IDUs and bridging populations,
– Implemented continuous training and capacity building of LTCs’ personnel (medical staff, social and outreach workers) to ensure user-friendly operations of LTCs,
– Implemented PR campaign for collaborators/stakeholders on local, national and international level,
– Created and piloted software for multilevel use for relevant organizations (Baltic AIDS Centers, institutions, LTC-Net, NGOs etc.) to ensure integrated approach in data monitoring and surveillance,
– Developed LTC operations handbook.