AHF began working with Demetra in 2009. Demetra is an HIV/AIDS support organization based in the capital city of Vilnius. Together, AHF and Demetra provide mobile HIV testing for hard-to-reach populations, free condoms, and access to healthcare and psychosocial support for those who test positive. In addition to the mobile clinic, AHF and Demetra facilitate rapid testing in 13 cities at 20 fixed locations throughout the country.
Free testing is limited to most-at-risk populations (MARPs), such as injecting drug users (IDUs), and is provided only through the rapid testing program of AHF and Demetra. Further, the government’s conservative attitude makes the availability of affordable condoms a challenge.
The national guidelines on treatment initiation in Lithuania still recommend start of HIV treatment at 200 CD4cells/M₃. Changing these guidelines is a key priority for AHF and Demetra. The public awareness and political interest in HIV is very low in Lithuania, as the epidemic is concentrated among people who use drugs. Data collection at national level is insufficient, which makes monitoring the epidemic very challenging.
In recent years, an increase in new infections among MSM is seen. AHF and Demetra opened the Vilnius Checkpoint clinic in 2016 to address this.
In 2016, an estimated 2,900 Lithuanians are living with HIV, out of the 2.8 million total population. Less than 500 new HIV infections occurred in 2016. Gender prevalence amongst adults (15-49) shows women at .1% compared to men at .2%. Out of the 2,900 Lithuanians living with HIV, approximately less than 1000 are on treatment.
Sources: UNAIDS 2016 estimates , CIA World Factbook 2016
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