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Low-threshold activities gain foothold in the Murmansk region

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
18.10.2007 6.15
Press release -

Finland is participating in a joint effort to prevent HIV-infections in the Barents region, alongside the other Nordic countries and Russia.

A seminar on the Barents HIV/AIDS Programme is being held in Murmansk on 18-19 October 2007, evaluating the results of the first phase of the three-year programme. This seminar is one of the events being organised during the Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Barents HIV/AIDS Programme is part of the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Wellbeing, coordinated in Finland by STAKES’ International Development Collaboration. Continued funding has been applied for the years 2008 to 2010.

The first phase of the Barents HIV/AIDS Programme focused on the prevention of HIV infections, various HIV treatments, and on providing social support for infected patients. The Programme aims to decrease social, health-related, financial, economical, and safety risks, and also supports the planning and realisation of HIV prevention projects, including those initiated in the Murmansk Region, the Republic of Karelia and the Leningrad Region. Other programme initiatives include the development of health education in schools, increasing the availability of the latest HIV treatments, and arousing general discussion on the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Last year, over 640 new HIV cases were reported in the Russian Barents Region, and 6,800 cases in North-West Russia. The Barents HIV/AIDS Programme has provided a means of supporting inter-sectoral co-operation between, for example, the health care, education, prison system and social sectors, and comprises a total of 25 sub-programmes. The pilot project was launched in 2005, when a Low-Threshold Support Centre was opened in Murmansk to support drug abusers, prostitutes, and all those with concerns about HIV. On regional level, the work performed at the Support Centre is highly valued, and continued efforts are being promoted. The Centre has witnessed a steady increase in the use of the provided services, which include HIV and hepatitis testing, handing out condoms, needle and syringe exchange, and health and social counselling.

For more information, please contact: Ms Outi Karvonen, Project Manager, International Development Collaboration at STAKES, The Barents HIV/AIDS Programme, Expert Group on HIV/AIDS, Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Wellbeing, tel. +358 9 3967 2046, mobile: +358 400 358 011, Mr Olli Kuukasjärvi, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 9 160 73168, Ms Merja Saarinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Health Affairs, tel. +358 9 1607 4030, Ms Anne Rissanen, Communications Officer, International Development Collaboration at STAKESS, mobile: +358 50 372 6606. International Development Collaboration at STAKES website: http://idc.stakes.fi.

The Russian Barents Region comprises the Murmansk Region, the Archangel Region, the Republic of Karelia, the Komi Republic, and the Nenetsky Autonomous District.

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