COVID-19 and prison health

On this page you can find helpful information and verified resources about COVID-19 and prison health.

The page is continuously updated

The International Corrections and Prisons Association (a verified resource)  

Worldwide Prison Health Research & Engagement Network (WEPHREN) (a verified resource)

Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention. 

Source – WHO

Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

Source – IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Position Paper COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons

SourceUNODC

COVID-19 pandemic: urgent steps are needed to protect the rights of prisoners in Europe. Statement by Commissioner Dunja Mijatović

SourceCouncil of Europe

Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty

SourceCouncil of Europe

Coronavirus: Healthcare and human rights of people in prison

SourcePenal Reform International

Appeal by European NGOs involved in the field of prison health and in the defence of the right to health protection for prisoners

COVID-19 in prison: the Council of Europe must lead on policies to address the Covid-19 challenges

SourceCouncil of Europe

COVID-19: Council of Europe anti-torture Committee issues “Statement of principles relating to the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty”

SourceCouncil of Europe

COVID-19 population management strategy for prisons

Source – www.gov.uk

UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and other closed settings

Source – UNAIDS

PRI educational posters for criminal justice practitioners to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Source:  penalreform.org

Understanding COVID-19 in secure settings 

Infection prevention and control and surveillance for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in prisons in EU/EEA countries and the UK

COVID-19, Prisons and Drug Policy: Global Scan March-June 2020 

Source – https://www.hri.global/

ORGANISATION AND MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH CARE IN PRISON

Source – Council of Europe

 

Helpful information about COVID-19. Continuously updated.

On this page you can find helpful information and verified resources about COVID-19.

The page is continuously updated

Resources:

UNAIDS

WHO – World Health Organization 

THE UNION – a global union to fight Tuberculosis

ASAM – American Society of Addiction Medicine

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

International Drug Policy Consortium

United Nations – Office on drugs and crimes

Life4me+ (a page with useful information)

World Hepatitis Alliance

IAS

Inter Agency Standing Committee

Johns Hopkins University 

IOM International (migrants)

 

The situation in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Kazakhstan

Ministry of Health

A map with regions

Ukraine

Ministry of Health of Ukraine

National Health Service of Ukraine

Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine

Kyrgyzstan

Official website on Coronavirus

Website of the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic

Republican Headquarters Telegram Channel to Prevent Coronavirus Infiltration

Republican Coronavirus Prevention Headquarters Facebook page

Republican Coronavirus Prevention Headquarters Instagram Page

Russia

Official website about Coronavirus

Moldova

A map with regions

Turkmenistan

Saglyk.org – credible public health information in the Turkmen language

 

Articles on topics:

Common info

Addressing Mental Health and Psychosocial Aspects of COVID-19 Outbreak

Source – https://interagencystandingcommittee.org

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: When and how to use masks

Source – WHO

COVID-19 and People Who Live with HIV

COVID-19 Drug Interactions .  Source – www.covid19-druginteractions.org

PEPFAR Technical Guidance in Context of COVID-19 Pandemic. Source – PEPFAR

Risk assessment and contingency planning tool for health systems functions and to ensure continuity of TB and HIV services . SourceCenter For Health Policies and Studies

A statement “Flatten inequality: human rights in the age of COVID-19” 

SourceCanadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

No increased coronavirus risk for people with well-controlled HIV say WHO, but how will health systems cope?

Sourceaidsmap 

EATG Rapid Assessment COVID-19 crisis’ Impact on PLHIV and on Communities Most Affected by HIV

Source – European AIDS Treatment Group 

Q&A on COVID-19, HIV and antiretrovirals

Source – WHO

COVID-19 and People Living with HIV: Frequently Asked Questions

Source – HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), Prevention Access Campaign, and partners

Resources on COVID-19 Support, Advocacy, Gender and HIV

Source – The Well Project

Lessons from HIV prevention for preventing COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries

Source – UNAIDS

Condoms and lubricants in the time of COVID-19

Source – UNAIDS

The global impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression

Source – Imperial College London, UK

The Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic on HIV, TB and Malaria in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Source – Imperial College London, UK


COVID-19 and prisons

The International Corrections and Prisons Association  

Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention.  Source – WHO

Interim Guidance. COVID-19: Focus on persons deprived of their liberty.

Source – IASC – Inter-Agency Standing Committee

Position Paper COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons

SourceUNODC

COVID-19 pandemic: urgent steps are needed to protect the rights of prisoners in Europe. Statement by Commissioner Dunja Mijatović.

SourceCouncil of Europe

 


COVID-19 and  People Who Use Drugs 

COVID-19 guidance for PWUD.  Source – www.harmreduction.org

Syringe Services and Harm Reduction Provider Operations During the COVID-19 Outbreak.

Source – www.harmreduction.org

How Harm Reducers Cope with the Covid-19 Pandemic in Europe?

Source – www.drogriporter.hu

Interim Guidance for COVID-19 and Persons with HIV. Source – www.aidsinfo.nih.gov

Information on the new virus, guidance for people living with HIV and answers to frequently asked questions from Dr Michael Brady

Source – www.tht.org.uk

Guidance for People Who Use Substances on COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

Sourcewww.inpud.net

Suggestions about treatment, care and rehabilitation of people with drug use disorder in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

SourceUNODC

COVID-19 HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs

SourceUNODC

Reducing the Harms of a Broken System: Social Justice Demands During COVID-19

Sourcedrogriporter.hu

Statement by the UN expert on the right to health on the protection of people who use drugs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Sourceharmreductioneurasia.org

Harm Reduction Responses to COVID-19 in Europe

Source – drogriporter.hu


COVID-19 and Tuberculosis

COVID-19 Coronavirus And Tuberculosis: We Need A Damage Control Plan. Source – www.forbes.com.

New diseases and old threats: lessons from tuberculosis for the COVID-19 response.

Source – www.theunion.org.

WHO HQ Information note on TB and COVID 19

Source – WHO


COVID-19 and Hepatitis 

CLINICAL INSIGHTS FOR HEPATOLOGY AND LIVER TRANSPLANT PROVIDERS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Source – AASLD – American Association for the study of Liver Diseases 

WHO HQ Q&A on COVID 19, HIV and antiretrovirals

Source – WHO


COVID-19 and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

The COVID-19 Outbreak: Potential Fallout for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Source – www.guttmacher.org


COVID-19 and youth

Youth guide

Source – www.dance4life.com


COVID-19 and SRHR 

SRHR and Gender

Source – Share-net International


COVID-19 and Sex workers

Sex workers’ response


COVID-19 and LGBT

What gay men can teach us about surviving the coronavirus

Source – www.theguardian.com


Reports from AIDS2020 

COVID-19 AND HIV: A TALE OF TWO PANDEMICS

Source – IAS


Other topics

How civil society helps to overcome COVID-19 pandemic effects in Ukraine

Source – https://euukrainecoop.com/

EU launches the Call for Proposals “EU Solidarity with Russian Civil Society”

The European Union Delegation to Russia published the Call for Proposals “EU Solidarity with Russian Civil Society – Protecting vulnerable groups and disproportionately affected by COVID-19” with an overall budget of € 6 million.

The objective of this call is to enable Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to function without interruptions at a time when their usual funding mechanisms are curtailed by the worsened economic situation, while ensuring continued and enhanced provision of services to the most vulnerable groups and those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

COVID-19 is a worldwide public health emergency severely affecting citizens, societies and economies. The numbers of infections and confirmed cases worldwide is growing and socio-economic shocks are negatively affecting people’s incomes, physical and mental wellbeing, and the social integrity of communities as a whole. COVID-19 outbreak is adding pressure on the social service delivery systems, and exacerbating the vulnerabilities of affected populations, especially those who are in most need. 

Support through experienced CSOs is essential to ensure that these socio-economic impacts on vulnerable groups are mitigated. Yet, many CSOs are also severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis and the conduct of their important activities as well as their organisational survival is put at a high risk as donations drop.

Any grant requested under this call for proposals must fall between the minimum of € 400 000 and maximum of € 600 000 amounts. The maximum percentage of the EU grant must fall under 90 % of the total eligible costs of the action. Nevertheless, the grant may cover the entire eligible costs of the action if this is deemed essential to carry it out, subject to the justification of full financing by the applicant (Ref. to article 1.3 of the Guidelines for applicants).

If the applicant is from the Russian Federation, it may act individually. If the Applicant is not from the Russian Federation, presence of at least one Russian co-applicant is obligatory.

The deadline for submission of Concept Notes is Monday, June 29, 2020.

More information for CSOs to apply for project funding is available at EuropeAid/168597/DH/ACT/RU . To apply to this call for proposals organisations must register in PADOR and submit their application in PROSPECT.  

Clarification requests and questions may be sent by e-mail no later than June 08, 2020 to the following e-mail address, indicating clearly the reference of the Call for proposals: 

NEAR-TENDER-168597@ec.europa.eu

We do our best to provide services

Ivan Anoshkin, coordinator of the street social work of NGO “Project April” (Tolyatti, Russia) talks about harm reduction activities of his organization at COVID-19 time.

For reference:

“Project April’ works in harm reduction. The main key groups are people who inject drugs and sex workers, but with changes on the drug scene and the emergence of different stimulants and salts, the organization got new client groups, particularly people practicing Chemsex. The organization employs 18 people and also has a large number of volunteers. “Project April” is recognized in Russia as a foreign agent.

Difficulties caused by COVID-19

Before the spread of the COVID-19 and the lockdown related to it, we used to receive our clients at our office every weekday. Anyone could come to get a consultation, HIV test or a harm reduction kit. We have always tried to provide the conditions for talking with our clients in a warm, comfortable atmosphere. Once the self-isolation regime was first introduced in Tolyatti in March, we had to completely close our office. However, seeing that after a few weeks it became clear that this regime could be extended over and over again, we decided that as a social organization, we cannot interrupt our activities indefinitely. Since then, one of the employees is in the office every working day to insure the provision of our regular services “on the spot”. Yet evidently, it is no longer possible for us to invite our clients to chat with them over a cup of tea, for the sake of their and our safety. Therefore, we are trying to provide our services at entrance.

Our work is largely focused on outreach and street work and in the current situation, this has had to be significantly reduced as well. For example, our employee went to a gay club every week where she developed trust relations with its visitors and maintained contacts with the community. With everything closed, this channel of communication is lost and this could negatively affect our current and potential clients. Finally, another significant obstacle that limits our activities during the crisis is a fear to cause more troubles to our clients by attracting unnecessary police attention to them.

Innovations

Under these circumstances, we have partially switched our activities to online. We are holding our work meetings on Skype. The visits we would do to rehabilitation centres every 1-2 months, we have also temporarily transferred to online. We agreed with administration of these centers to pre-deliver them brochures and HIV self-tests, and to organise our seminar via Skype afterwards. This way, patients have an opportunity to get tested and to get immediate information and support, even in these dark times.

What is more, to our clients we started to send and deliver harm reduction kits, HIV self–tests, and, if necessary, packages with basic products and goods. Basically, we already know places where our clients continue to gather. So we deliver our kits and packages there directly, based on their precise needs. For our employees, volunteers and active participants who continue to work, we purchase masks, gloves and disinfectants.

In times of crisis like this, our clients have more demand for social and psychological support as well. For this purpose, we have a service taxi that allows our employees to come to clients to provide social assistance and products of first necessity. And if necessary, we also deliver ARV therapy to clients, with their written agreement.

Certainly, due to the self-isolation regime and the hostile atmosphere in general, the number of new clients decreases, but not as significantly as we had feared. When you have already been working with harm reduction for this many years, the members of community know you. And we should also not underestimate the power of the word of mouth, that stays efficient at all times. Even now, newcomers visit our office at the recommendation of our clients.

What’s next?

This crisis has shown us how important it is to keep in touch with our clients not only live, but online as well. This way we stay in permanent contact. Hence, in the future we are hoping to have a possibility to hire a person whose work will be devoted only to managing social media and maintaining contact with our client through messengers on a regular basis.

We also really hope to offer some financial compensation to our employees, who continue to “work in the field” at their own peril and risk, especially as some of them – as I do – have a fairly low CD4 level.

Global Prison Trends 2020

Penal Reform International released a document Global Prison Trends 2020.
Global Prison Trends 2020 documents the chronic issues that have led to this human rights and public health crisis and the challenges facing criminal justice systems in responding to the global pandemic.

The report documents a record 11 million people in prison worldwide, with over 124 prisons exceeding their maximum occupancy rate. Global Prison Trends shows how this increase in numbers is driven by a punitive approach to criminal justice where more costly prison sentences are favoured over non-custodial alternatives.
The overcrowding and underfunding of prisons, alongside the overuse of imprisonment, has resulted in poor health services and sanitary conditions for prisoners that make people in prison and prison staff acutely vulnerable to COVID-19.
The special focus of Global Prison Trends 2020 identifies the solution presented by increasing the use of alternatives to imprisonment and the challenges governments may face in implementing this. PRI advocates for an increase in the use of alternatives to detention as a solution to the global prison crisis and in the long-term to reduce reoffending rates, better protect human rights and tackle overcrowding.

Global Prison Trends 2020 explores the following subjects:
– Crime, justice and imprisonment
– Trends in the use of imprisonment, including the funding of penitentiary systems
– Prison populations such as women, children, older persons and minority groups
– Prison management including the provision of health services
– The role and use of technology in prison
– A special focus on alternatives to imprisonment

Read the document

Executive-Summary-GPT-English

How COVID-19 quarantine measures affect LGBT community NGOs working in the field of HIV prevention

Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity  (ECOM) published a report on how the COVID-19 epidemic affects the work of LGBT organizations working on HIV prevention and support in the CEECA region.

In April 2020, ECOM conducted a rapid situation assessment to determine how the COVID-19 epidemic and related quarantine measures affect LGBT NGOs working in the field of HIV prevention and on other sexual health issues in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA).
The organization sought to find out how the work of NGOs has changed due to quarantine measures; to what extent do organizations have the resources to survive in emergency situations; what are they doing to ensure the safety of their clients and staff; and what do they feel is important to do in the future in order to reduce the risks associated with epidemics similar to COVID-19.
33 respondents from 25 cities in 11 CEECA countries participated in the assessment.

The assessment showed that many community organizations in the region have stopped offline work with clients (19 of the 33 respondents participating in the assessment). For 54% of organizations, the number of clients in the first month of quarantine fell by more than half.

In the first month after the introduction of restrictive measures, organizations most often reduced HIV and STI testing services – 39% and 30% of respondents respectively. 27% of respondents reduced the provision of condoms and lubricants, and another 24% curtailed counseling and support services on various issues (in connection with HIV testing and prevention, and psychological support for various subgroups, including PLH).

Only less than half (48%) of respondents stated that their organizations feel confident in the current environment. A significant number fear that if quarantine is extended, they will have to start laying off employees. Some have already begun cutting salaries or the number of staff, while 6% have completely stopped operating.

Nevertheless, the majority of organizations are continuing to operate and are looking for ways to adapt to conditions under quarantine. The main area for adaptation entails transferring services online. Work in this area began a long time ago; before the quarantine, half of the organization surveyed already covered 50% or more of their clients with online services. The primary service offered to clients online is various forms of counseling. All respondents noted the importance of developing various kinds of online and contactless services, including support and education services, and the delivery of ARV therapy drugs to clients’ homes.

Respondents proposed measures to increase the sustainability and security of organizations, for example, by abandoning large, common spaces in offices, forming mini-teams of employees whose working hours do not overlap, or by arranging client reception via appointment only. In addition, respondents consider it important to take into account the administrative and programmatic risks associated with epidemics similar to COVID-19 when planning their work and budget, and to develop the coordination of work with local medical institutions and administrations, as well as with international organizations.

Read the report here

EECA’s response to COVID-19. Prison health.

Evgeniy Yuldashev, peer consultant and social worker, AFEW Kyrgyzstan, about work with (ex) prisoners. 

For reference:

For three years, Evgeniy has been working as a peer consultant with people who are released from prisons and are getting ready for the release with AFEW Kyrgyzstan. His work is to provide support to (ex) prisoners, tell them how to adapt to the social environment and live a full life with HIV and any co-morbidities, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis C.

Changes due to COVID-19

Currently, Bishkek and other big cities of Kyrgyzstan live in the state of emergency. So far, there have been no cases registered in any correctional facilities. The penitentiary system implements a set of measures to avoid any outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons. First of all, it means that all prisons are closed for visitors, including AFEW Kyrgyzstan staff members. Since 20 March 2020, our peer consultants have not been visiting any institutions.

Fortunately, some of our team members work as social workers in the correctional facilities. Besides, in each institution there are 2-3 volunteers (navigators) from among the prisoners. Thus, we are still able to remain in contact with the prisoners.

Innovations

Currently, one of our key priorities is prevention of the spread of coronavirus.

Prisoners are one of the populations most vulnerable to the new virus. The experience of other countries shows that in prisons the epidemic develops as a fire destroying everything on its way. It can be explained with the living conditions in prisons – overcrowded cells of the detention centers and cramped prison barracks do not allow for social distancing or self-isolation.

In fact, prison life has not really changed – inspections twice a day, waiting lines in the canteens and even long waiting lines in methadone dispensing sites…

From our side, we try to make our contribution to prevent any outbreaks in prisons. The first vital thing to be done is organizing awareness-raising activities. We started with our target group – prisoners who live with HIV. Through our project WhatsApp group and during our telephone calls, we regularly share information about coronavirus with the social workers which they can further share with the prisoners.

There is still a lack of studies on the virus, but the available data shows that HIV-positive people with suppressed viral load and high immunity status do not face a higher risk of infection than the general population. That is why our social workers and volunteers continue their efforts to enroll prisoners into the ART programs and ensure their adherence to treatment in close cooperation with the prison health workers.

As a peer consultant, I always stay in touch with the social workers and through them with the volunteers. We regularly organize phone calls and WhatsApp chats. As they say we are keeping our eyes on the ball. If prisoners have any questions, they can address them with our team through the social workers.

However, it will not be enough to inform people living with HIV to avoid any possible outbreaks. With support of our partners from the UNDP, we prepared a small information brochure, which will help people to learn more about COVID-19, its prevention, symptoms and treatment, and provided the published materials to the Prison Service.

Besides, we received a request for support from the prison administration to facilitate the procurement of personal protective equipment, disinfectants, etc. We submitted this request to our partners from ICAP, who will ensure the procurement of all the necessary supplies.

We are also looking for additional funding to roll out the response to the epidemic. Many prisoners complain about the lack of basic hygiene items. Today it is more important than ever to clean your hands and keep your towel clean. However, unfortunately such people do not always have access to a sufficient stock of such basic things as soap and laundry powder. We are in the process of negotiations with GIZ about the possibility to procure such materials and conduct large-scale awareness-raising activities covering not only prisoners but also prison staff as because of their work duties they are also at high risk of contracting the virus.

So we are keeping ourselves busy and make all the efforts to help our beneficiaries live through this challenging period of time.

 

The ViiV Healthcare Global HIV and COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund

ViiV Healthcare announced £3 million global fund to research the impact of COVID-19 on the HIV community and fill gaps in prevention, treatment and care during the pandemic.

ViiV Healthcare announced the creation of the Global HIV and COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The £3 million fund will make available critical financial resources for research projects to study the medical and scientific impact COVID-19 is having on people living with HIV and community-based grants to help address specific challenges to the HIV community created by the global pandemic.

The ViiV Healthcare Global HIV and COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund will be divided equally between two programmes and grants will be available through a request for proposal (RFP) process. The Research Emergency Response Fund will make available up to £1.5 million to support scientific research about the impact of COVID-19 on people living with HIV. The Community Emergency Response Fund will make available up to £1.5 million to support community-based activities that address the specific challenges faced by people living with HIV during this pandemic.

Research Emergency Response Fund
To help improve the understanding and management of the COVID-19 pandemic in people living with HIV, ViiV Healthcare is inviting research proposals within three priority areas of interest that include epidemiology and real-world data, healthcare systems management initiatives in COVID-19 environments, and biomarkers indicative of disease susceptibility, severity, and progression.

Successful proposals will be awarded grants from the £1.5 million Research Emergency Response Fund to undertake independent research through ViiV Healthcare’s existing Investigator Sponsored Studies (ISS) programme.  Requests for proposals will be open from 27 April through 18 May. The proposals will be reviewed by an internal ViiV Healthcare scientific panel and successful applicants notified by 5 June.

Community Emergency Response Fund
ViiV Healthcare will seek applications from community organisations to support their work in addressing the specific challenges that have arisen for people living with HIV or affected by HIV as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the £1.5 million Community Emergency Response Fund, grants will be made available to support ongoing access to critical HIV prevention, care and outreach services, differentiated models of service delivery, short term payments for critical community staff, and community monitoring and feedback on the impact of COVID-19 to HIV services and support.  The Community Emergency Fund is not intended for the purchase of pharmaceutical products.

The Community Emergency Response Fund will support existing grantees of ViiV Healthcare’s Positive Action or Government Affairs (GA) or Global Public Health (GPH). Requests for proposals will be open from 27 April through 15 May. The proposals will be reviewed by an internal ViiV Healthcare panel and successful applicants notified by 25 May.

More information here.

At our own risk. EECA’s reponse to COVID-19.

Yuri Avdeev, Chairman of the Board of the Chelyabinsk City Public Organization “Independent Research Center “There is an opinion”, Russia

For your information:

The independent research center “There is an opinion” has been working in the field of prevention of socially dangerous diseases and research of various aspects of social life since 2000. The Center works to reduce the spread of socially dangerous diseases, such as HIV infection, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections; provides assistance in overcoming psychological and communication problems (difficulties in communication, self-confidence); assistance in disclosing personal qualities, self-fulfillment of personality; socio-psychological, informational assistance to people living with HIV and TB, as well as their significant environment.

At present, the “There is an opinion” centre is the largest operator of rapid HIV testing in the Urals. Every year 19,000 residents of the Chelyabinsk Region and its border areas become clients of the programme. The main target groups are men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people (TG), people who use drugs (PWUD) and the general population.

Difficulties caused by the virus

For five years our organization has been working in the context of HIV prevention with MSM/TG. Weekly on Fridays, two teams of specialists (psychologist + nurse) worked in two nightclubs for LGBT people, carrying out rapid HIV testing, pre- and post-test counseling, distributing prevention information materials, condoms and lubricants, and accompanying identified clients to be registered with the AIDS Center. Due to the announcement of the self-isolation regime, nightclubs are closed, so we are no longer able to continue our normal work at their base. The testing room is also closed.

Unfortunately, this situation paralyzed the work of our organization and most of the activities were stopped. Many people go online, but we should understood that online counselling, for example, will not replace HIV testing and the issuance of condoms and lubricants.

Innovations

On April 7th, at our own risk, we reopened the testing room in the evening, because we received a request from clients for testing and obtaining condoms and lubricants. The cooperation with the AIDS Center helped us to do this. In addition, today we are delivering ARVT drugs for HIV+ patients in Chelyabinsk, including MSM. We have received special passes for being in the city.

We have noticed that those who receive ART at home are even happy about it, because now they do not have to take a ticket and wait in line. However, nightclub visitors are not very happy with these innovations, but the most motivated members of the community themselves come to the testing room to receive HIV prevention and testing.

In our work we try to follow all the necessary recommendations of the regional Government: the reception is held by appointment; social distance is respected; precautions are taken – specialists work with masks, gloves and glasses, the client is given a mask; surfaces are wiped with a disinfector; washing of the room takes place every 2 hours.

Of course, statistics for our activities have fallen. Whereas we used to serve up to an average of 100 MSM/TG per month, now the number has dropped by almost 5 times.

What’s next?

Today we are thinking about self-testing. We only work with blood tests, and today it is not the most convenient option. So we’re negotiating with donors to buy saliva tests.

EECA’s reponse to COVID-19

Alexander Chebin, project coordinator at the Regional Public Foundation “New Life”, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

For reference

“New Life” Foundation has been working in Yekaterinburg in the field of AIDS prevention and control, assistance to different categories of population since 2011. The key groups are (ex) prisoners, migrants, drug users, sex workers, people affected by HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis.

Difficulties due to the virus

Currently, we have suspended our activities on fast HIV and hepatitis outreach testing, activities in rehabilitation centers, penal inspections, police departments, federal enforcement agency system and other organizations.

Since the introduction of the country’s self-isolation regime, representatives of our key groups have found themselves in new realities – for example, their level of anxiety has significantly increased, including with regard to treatment and care. Also we have received many requests for psychological support. Due to changing economic circumstances, people have developed a lot of fears – they are afraid of losing their jobs and uncertainty in the future. We have already analyzed our work during 2 weeks of self-isolation. The number of requests through the means of communication increased several times. Our employees conduct consultations, provide psychological support and accompany participants “by phone”, through various messengers. This is especially important for people released from prisons, who do not have the skills to apply to government agencies using Internet resources.

Innovations

Fortunately, in a pandemic, our work does not stop. However, due to the virus and quarantine measures, we had to go online and interact with our participants remotely, through communications channels.

Due to the new rules of patient’s admission, the management of the AIDS Centre decided to involve volunteers to help in the delivery of life-saving antiretroviral therapy. Thus, since March 30, our employees have been actively involved in this process. Our two staff members take calls and consult people on how to register delivery. With the help of the Foundation’s car with a driver health workers are delivered to clients. Also, 3 employees and 1 “New Life”s volunteer drive their cars to deliver ARV therapy.

In addition, the Foundation does not stop providing legal and social assistance to people, doing it remotely. Also, we accompany people released from prison to medical organizations, help to deliver food packages, clothes. In case of emergency, one of our employees collects the kits for participants at our drop-in centre and delivers them to their homes with all necessary security measures.

In the future, we plan to go back to the way we used to work, assess and reflect on our experience in the pandemic and perhaps make adjustments to some aspects of our work.