Press conference

National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Prof. Dr. Matei Balș” is launching the predefined project RO 19.02 - Strengthening the control and prevention of HIV, HBV, HCV in Romania”, financed through the Financial Norway Mechanism 2009-2014, RO 19 Programme “Public Health Initiatives”, having as Programme Operator the Romanian Ministry of Health.
Through the SEE Grants, Norway contributes to the decrease in the social and economic differences and consolidates the bilateral relations with beneficiary countries in Europe. Norway has a close collaboration with EU via the Economic European Area Agreement.
For 2009-2014, Norway’s contribution amounts to 1,7 billion Euro. Funding is available for non-governmental organisations, research and academic institutions, public and private sectors in the newest 12 member states of the European Union but also for Greece, Portugal and Spain. Due to a good collaboration with the Norwegian entities, the implementing period for specific activities can be extended until 2016.
The main support areas are: environment protection and climate change, research and scholarships, civil society, health and child development, gender equality, justice and cultural heritage. 

The main objectives of RO 19,02 „“Strengthening the control and prevention of HIV, HBV, HCV in Romania”:

  • A national study on attitudes, mentalities, behaviour among the general population regarding HIV/AIDS, HBV, HCV ;
  • National information, education and communication campaign on HIV, HBV, HCV with special focus on injecting drug users;
  • A national screening as well as an electronic registry of patients with hepatitis;
  • Sustainability of the needle exchange programme for injecting drug users;
  • Special focus on the Rroma population

The project is budgeted with approximately 1.300.000 euro, mainly with financing form the 2009-2014 Norwegian Financial Mechanism with 15% contribution from the Romanian state.
The project will be deployed throughout two years, starting with 1 May 2014 to 30 April 2016. The Project Promoter is National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Prof. Dr. Matei Bals” that will partner with a 4 profile NGOs consortium: ARAS- Romanian Association against AIDS, “Parada” Foundation, Romanian Harm Reduction Network (RHRN), ALIAT- Alliance against Addictions.
„The number of HIV infections among injecting drug users (IDU) in Romania has increased significantly during 2007-2013, from 4% in 2007 to 30,6% in 2012 and 29,23% in 2013. In order to prevent an HIV epidemic outburst among IDUs we will be working with harm reduction and vulnerable groups professionals, but we’ll also continue to inform the general population regarding HIV/AIDS, HBV, HCV” says Mariana Mardarescu MD PhD, Head of Compartment for Monitoring and Evaluation of HIV/AIDS data in Romania
During the last two years, 30% of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Romania became infected via use of injecting drugs. According to the new estimate methodology used by the National Agency against Drugs, in 2012 Bucharest hosted 10.583 injecting drug users. Persons addicted to injecting drugs also present associated health problems. Thus, more than 80% of them have HCV and a significant share have tuberculosis and mental health issues, many of them remaining undiagnosed.
Persons affected by these infections also deal with a series of social issues:

  • Discriminatory attitude on behalf of the community;
  • Increased rate of unemployment or the lack of a constant monthly income;
  • Difficulties in providing the basic needs and access to health care services; 
  • Therapeutic fatigue, many of them opting for treatment interruption;
  • Self interrupted therapy triggers resistance to treatment which leads to increased costs in therapeutic options;

The final objective of this project is to control HIV, HBV, HCV infections’ spread among vulnerable populations by providing optimal screening/diagnosing services, which will consolidate and add quality in the life of these populations.
Thus, the project will contribute to reaching the target proposed by the 2009-2014 Financial Norwegian Mechanism but also to the implementation of the National Health Strategy 2014-2020.
„HIV infections represent one of the most severe illnesses with numberless consequences for both the infected person as well as for the society. Bilateral efforts to reduce the impact of this infection may lead to an important number of successful interventions. While Norway presents a relatively stable and constant rate of infections among IDUs, Romania presents an increasing trend among this risk group. The cooperation and exchange of practices may lead to improved results within health initiatives and beneficial partnerships between Norway and Romania”, says Mioara Predescu MD- project Coordinator.