Best practice of distributing harm reduction kits for people who use drugs through pharmacy certificates in Novosibirsk.
Novosibirsk regional organization "Humanitarian project". Since 2018, the organization has been implementing the program “Positive strategies", the main task of which is to provide the populations most vulnerable to HIV infection with low-threshold services in connection with HIV: testing, prevention, treatment, psychological and social support.
How it implements the best practice
One of the target groups of the program is people who use drugs (PUD), including injecting drug users (IDUs). The Positive Strategies project, together with the Novosibirsk Region AIDS Center, supports the work of a mobile HIV testing laboratory, where anyone can anonymously and free of charge take a rapid HIV test and receive counseling. During a pandemic of a new coronavirus infection, when mobile laboratories did not work due to the epidemic situation, the project went online: customers could order an HIV test and a prophylactic kit delivered to the nearest collection point via Internet.
Project consultants and outreach volunteers have been trained to work with target groups, including PUD, and, in addition to testing, offer them during outreach or when ordering a test online the so-called pharmacy certificates. Each client can exchange these certificates with a face value of 100 rubles in one of the large pharmacy chains in the Novosibirsk region (55 points in different districts) for supplies necessary for HIV prevention and health preservation, including syringes, water for injection, alcohol wipes. The list of supplies also includes heparin ointment, vitamins, troxerutin, adhesive plaster, chlorhexidine.
The certificates list all the supplies that can be obtained at the pharmacy, the addresses of the pharmacies, a hotline for people who use drugs, with a peer counselor on chemical dependence and HIV assigned to it. Thus, without directly distributing sterile syringes (which requires additional coordination with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the municipality), the NGO "Humanitarian Project", within the framework of the "Positive Strategies" program, provides people vulnerable to HIV in connection with injecting drug use access to clean equipment. which in turn contributes to the preservation of their health and the prevention of the spread of HIV infection in the region.
The first year (2019) of using certificates showed that in 65% of cases where the certificates were purchased, the “purchase” contained syringes, which indicates the demand for this service among the target group. The NGO "Humanitarian Project" plans to develop a program of pharmacy certificates and continue informing the PUD group about the possibility of obtaining and using them. As of July 2020, it has been distributed in a test mobile, during outreach, with the help of orders via the Internet and in the office of a peer counselor of the AIDS Center more 1000 certificates.