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Response from the Lithuanian Ministry of Health regarding attacks on CBVCT services

Earlier we reported about the Lithuanian association “Demetra” being under threat from governmental organizations of closing down its community-based rapid HIV testing. This was stated in the Demetra’s press-release:

"As a response to Demetra’s HIV testing services, National Communicable Diseases and AIDS Centre (CCAC) started inspections of Demetra without any notice, basing its actions on legislation which has not been updated since 2010 and does not respond to WHO, ECDC or EMCDDA recommendations. In the last two months, CCAC submitted four complaints to governmental institutions against “Demetra”. Based on these complains, four commissions inspected rapid community-based HIV testing services on the pretext that rapid HIV testing is an invasive medical procedure which must be perform only in accredited medical facility.”

Expressing our solidarity with the organization, AIDS Action Europe sent an official letter to the Ministry of Health in Lithuania stressing the importance of the role of community based testing in tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Recenlty we received an answer from the Lithuanian Ministry of Health stating that the ministry is "preparing relevant changes in the legislation in line with the consultations with NGOs working in order to allow performance of rapid HIV tests in non-medical settings.” It is empahsised  that “these changes will expand access to anonymous rapid HIV testing, at the same time ensuring public health safety requirements.”

The state commitment towards the support of communities and testing in the communities is an important part of ensuring the structural approach to eliminating HIV/AIDS epidemic.  AIDS Action Europe will closely monitor the process of changing the legislation in Lithuania. Only removing obstacles for CBVCT and following international recommendations will lead to higher access to testing and decrease of undiagnosed HIV infections.

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