This year EECA was hit by war and the project had to crisis manage its approaches as well as find new solutions. We are proud of our partners and donor – that made us succeed in the most challenging of times!
KEY ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE #SoS 2.0 REGIONAL TEAM IN 2022 PRESENT THE CONCERTED WORK IN SOLIDARITY AND WITH BRIGHT COMMITMENT TO DELIVER IN HIV BATTLEFIELD.
- Responding to the greatest after WWII people’s movement – from Ukraine to escape the Russian war, which substantially affected key HIV groups , project partners developed and launched a unique service #HelpNow to support IDP and refugees from among PLHIV and KPs that have faced difficulties in accessing HIV, OAT, TB and HCV treatment and other necessary services in receiving sites or countries. The service includes online platform, treatment linkage service, face-to-face support in Poland, Moldova and Germany and well as online doctors’ consultations and has provided support up to 14,000+ cases to link to treatment and/or other related crucial services in new location.
- EECA gaps in services hindering HIV care cascade were addressed by the project through strategic initiatives such as PrEP pilot project in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, scaling-up access to PrEP in North Macedonia (for the first time, PrEP was procured with government funding) and initiating treatment program for stimulant users. Long acting prevention and treatment options are in active exploration.
- Thanks to focused advocacy effort, technical support and integrating approach to HIV funding allocation, in 2022 we managed to achieve the allocation of about $457 thousand at the municipal level and $6.2 million at the national level for key populations programs.
Human rights and policies were high on the project agenda.
During 2022, REAct registered 3500+ cases of human rights violations and discrimination towards PLHIV and KPs in 11 counties of EECA region. REAct unites 150+ NGOs and communities, including regional networks like ECOM, ENPUD, SEE RCN. 43% of clients who contacted REActors – received legal support to restore justice. At the same time, 30% of clients decline to fight for their rights due to fear to be prosecuted or chased. Main perpetrators were the police and medical personnel and we focused our advocacy effort on these groups.
The Eastern and Central European and Central Asian Commission on Drug Policy (ECECACD) was active to humanize drug legislation, including through visit to Vilnius, Lithuania, a series of meetings with the current and former President, the Speaker of the Seimas, representatives of ministries and agencies and discussion of the draft law on cannabis decriminalization, which was adopted by the commission on human rights before the vote in the Seimas.
- The first ever at 15 country scale Women-led gender assessment on barriers to HIV services for women living with HIV, sex workers and women who use drugs was conducted by the project. Preliminary findings list such barriers as: repressive legislation for women living with HIV, sex workers and women who use drugs; little or no gender disaggregated data; gender neutral (or gender blind) interventions in the HIV response, little or no focus on women as a target group; in some countries little or no involvement of women living with HIV, sex workers and women who use drugs in decision-making, policymaking and programming. Studies report will be published in the first half of 2023.
- The project worked to reduce negative impact of COVID-19 upon HIV responses in EECA. 120000 rapid tests and 13 vending machines were procured and delivered to the countries, supplied an additional 4 thousand PCRs and supported North Macedonia with the necessary equipment for the treatment of COVID-19, Assessment of the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies among blood donors in Ukraine was conducted, Contingency planning Guide for Contingency Planning for Key Population HIV Services was developed for 12 countries, and support provided to shelters for LGBT victims and women who use drugs of rights violations in 7 countries during COVID-19 pandemic.