AHF expanded its programs to Portugal in early 2013 when the country was facing difficulties due to the financial crisis. In Portugal, AHF works on the testing and linkage program with GAT, an organization based in Lisbon. GAT – a Portuguese group of treatment activists, founded in 2001 – is a structure of individual membership and cooperation between people from different communities and different organizations affected by HIV. GAT advocates legal and political changes that positively affect the health, rights and quality of life of people living with HIV or at risk of acquiring. GAT is running a Checkpoint (HIV prevention center) and IN –Mouraria harm reduction center in Lisbon. AHF Portugal supports these operations, where rapid and easily accessible HIV testing is provided to targeted populations. AHF Portugal also supports free condom distribution, advocacy activities and availability of rapid testing through some of GAT’s partners.
Free onsite HIV testing is provided at Lisbon Checkpoint and IN-Mouraria, and during outreach events through the country.
Portugal’s HIV incidence has increased both in heterosexual and homosexual groups. The prevalence among men having sex with men remains a major concern as it is growing in absolute figures (24% of new infections).
There has been a decrease in the incidence among people who inject drugs (about 10% of new infections) but that is counterbalanced by reported increases in relapses (heroin related, mostly) and by a financial gap in harm reduction (e.g. needle exchange programs). It is, however, the highest incidence rate in Western Europe.
The rate of late diagnosis is around 65%, above the European average. The average CD4 cell counts at the time of diagnosis are between 183 and 264.
In the Stigma Index Portugal study, 30% of participants reported cases of stigma and discrimination in healthcare services or related to healthcare professionals.
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