During the last four years, AHF is the main funder and the most important partner of the Greek Association of PLHIV in Greece in the field of advocating for the rights of PLHIV, prevention and testing services.
The Greek Association of people living with HIV “Positive Voice” develops activities in the direction of defending the rights of people living with HIV, addressing the spread of HIV/AIDS and also mitigating its social and economic impact in Greece. In this context, “Positive Voice” and AHF are developing a series of targeted interventions oriented not only towards people living with HIV/AIDS (access to treatment and monitoring, campaigns against stigma etc.) but also towards the general population in terms of promoting prevention and the vulnerable to HIV social groups, such as men who have sex with men, drug users, sex workers, Roma communities, prisoners etc.
In the field of prevention, the “Checkpoint” Testing & Prevention Centers has completed four years of contributing to the public health of Greece. Introducing a new testing concept for sexually transmitted diseases for the first time in Greece in November 2012 in a bright and welcoming environment in Athens and Thessaloniki, the non-clinical premises «Checkpoint» have conducted to date over than 53,000 tests for HIV and hepatitis B and C.
Greece is included in the EU countries with high rates of late HIV diagnoses. According to the estimations, 23% of HIV-positive people in the country do not know their HIV status. For this reason the contribution of «Checkpoint» in the public health field is very important. 19% of the new HIV diagnoses in 2014 in Greece were conducted at Checkpoint, while this percentage rose to 31% in 2015 and reached 33% in the first 10 months of 2016.
In 2015, 691 HIV diagnoses were reported. Of these, 613 (88.7%) were in males and 78 (11.3%) were in females. Totally, 78 cases, who were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, had already developed AIDS or progressed to AIDS during that year. Sex between men accounted for 50.8% of HIV diagnoses in 2015 followed by heterosexual transmissions (15.8%), and infections attributed to injecting drug use (10.1%).
The route of HIV transmission remained undetermined in 23.3% of HIV diagnoses in 2015. The predominant age group in both males (38.5%) and females (39.8%) was that of 30-39 years old. Similar distribution patterns by age group were observed across transmission modes. Information on CD4+T cell count at the time of HIV diagnosis during 2015 was available for 512 cases (74.1%). Of these, 284 (55.5%) had < 350 cells/ mm3 and 170 (33.2%) had < 200 cells/mm3. The corresponding values (< 350 and < 200) for men who have sex with men (MSM) were 152 (47.1%) and 75 (23.2%), for persons who acquired HIV heterosexually were 62 (64.6%) and 43 (44.8%) respectively, and for people who inject drugs (PWID) were 42 (80.8%) and 32 (61.5%). The cumulative number of HIV diagnoses (including AIDS cases) that had been reported in Greece by 31/12/2015 was 15,221. Of these, 12,594 (82.7%) were males and 2,583 (17%) were females. Gender was not reported for a few HIV diagnoses. Male-to-male sexual contact is the most frequently reported mode of HIV transmission in Greece. In total, 47% of HIV diagnoses, who were reported through mandatory reporting system of HCDCP, in Greece were in Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). After excluding cases with undocumented mode of HIV transmission the aforementioned percentage comes up to 57.6%. An outbreak of HIV occurred among PWID; 311 infections were diagnosed in 2011 and 519 in 2012. However, HIV diagnoses attributed to injecting drug use have been decreasing since 2013: 2013 (n=261), 2014 (n=112), and 2015 (n=70). The declining trend of HIV diagnoses in PWID does not preclude increased HIV transmission rates in that group or in other population groups in the future. Of 3210 cases infected through heterosexual contact, the majority (53.3%) were females. After 2010, however, the percentage of males among heterosexually-infected cases increased (2015; males 56.9%). The proportion of people with non-Greek nationality among the heterosexually-infected population (n=1,130; 35.2%) is larger than among the overall population (n=2,641; 17,4%) or among men who have sex with men (n=507; 7.1%) or among PWID (n=437; 26.5%) . In 2015, vertically-acquired HIV infections (age < 13 years old) were not reported in Greece. Over the last 5 years (2010-2015), 8 cases of vertical transmission of HIV were reported (3 in 2010, 4 in 2011, and 1 in 2014).