Drug users (injection) in Georgia
of users are carriers of Hepatitis C virus
of HIV-positive people take drugs by injection
Drug use increased rapidly in Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, affecting up to 1% of the total population, namely 45,000 people. In this context where drug users are strongly rejected by society, the public authorities’ only answer tends to be the criminalisation of drug use, when 70% of users are hepatitis C virus carriers, and 50% of HIV-positive people inject drugs. In May 2015, Georgia launched a national hepatitis C elimination programme. Yet, drug users, often very stigmatised and marginalised, still only have limited access to treatments.
70% of users are hepatitis C virus carriers.
Since 2011, the drop-in centre opened by Doctors of the World and by New Vector, its local partner, has been carrying out prevention and education programmes for drug users informing them about the risks of infectious diseases. Our teams supply them with injection kits, screening as well as medical consultations and dental care. Peer workers also do outreach work with the most isolated users, providing them with sterile equipment and spreading the word on prevention.
Doctors of the World also supports the campaigns and activities of the Georgian Network of People who Use Drugs (GeNPUD). Our organisation joins them in their fight for their rights and for better access to treatment of hepatitis C. It also campaigns for GeNPUD to participate in national policy-making related to the fight against this virus.
Finally, Doctors of the World developed a hepatitis C treatment pilot programme for 250 users with a view to demonstrate the efficiency of a support programme that is adapted to the specific needs of drug users and showing that users are able to manage their own health when they are adequately taken care of.
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