Ten years of harm-reduction in prisons of Moldova: Successes and challenges

Speaker: Larisa Pintilei (Director NGO "Innovating Projects in Prisons" of Moldova, Coordinator of harm reduction programs in prisons in Moldova)

Prison is a risky environment, both for the prisoners and the staff. Transmission rates of HIV in prisons are much higher then in the society in general. It is known that 90 % HIV infection is the result of injected drugs. That is why it is extremely important to provide prisoners with access to sterile tools; The first harm-reduction program in prisons of Moldova started in 1999. Object of the program: Prophylaxis of HIV/AIDS in prisons, including needle exchange among IDUs. Beneficiaries: 6840 inmates; 2630 staff members; 1020 IDUs in prisons; Methods: Harm reduction activities within 18 prisons of Moldova; Needle exchange for injectable drug users in 9 prisons; Providing the prisoners with condoms, razor blades, disinfectants; Advocacy for HIV positive and injectable drug users; Results: During the 10 years of the Harm-Reduction Program we achieved the following: broadening the Harm reduction activities including needle exchange in 9 prisons; reducing the number of newly detected HIV cases amongst injectable drug users; reducing the number of new cases of STDs and VHC; providing free access to disinfectants, condoms; Conclusions: The program, within the past 10 years of activity, have conclusively proved to be feasible, resulting in considerable decrease the of spreading of HIV/AIDS in prisons; this programs imply reasonably small costs and are efficient, for the simple reason that it is much cheaper to provide a clean syringe than expensive ARV treatment; our experience has been recognized as the best example of combating HIV/AIDS transmission in prisons. IHRD wrote a book describing the project, containing recommendations for other countries on the implementation of such projects.

CV: Larisa Pintilei was born on 23th April 1967; Education: 1990-1991, State Medical University “N. Testemitsanu”, postgraduate education, general medicine; 1984-1990 State Medical University “N.Testemitsanu”, general medicine; Present position – Director of ONG “Innovative Projects in Prisons” and coordonator of the project “Harm reduction in prisons.”; Professional experience: 1998-present, senior specialist, internist at the Medical Service of the Department of Penitentiary Institutions, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Moldova;2002-present, project director “Harm reduction in prisons”; 2003-2004, Project Coordinator on “Overcoming stigmatization and discrimination of HIV-infected inmates in prisons of Moldova”; 1999-2004 Project Coordinator “Fighting HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries”; 2004-2006, project director “Harm reduction in prisons”; July 2005, Entered into the list of experts and consultants for the project “Fighting HIV/AIDS in penitentiary,” implemented in prisons in the ex-soviet countries; December 2005, Technical expert in projects for Prophylaxis HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries in Ukraine; October 2006, Slovenia Senior Trainer in the “Training for prevention of HIV/AIDS infection and instructing in the domain of harm reduction in prisons”; May 2007, Warsaw, Poland Major Session Speaker at the 18th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm; October 2007, Egypt, technical expert in projects for Prophylaxis HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries from South African Cities; November 2007, Bucharest Technical expert in projects for Prophylaxis of HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries in Romanian Cities; December 2007, Technical expert in projects for Prophylaxis of HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries from cities in Azerbaijan; February 2008, Moscow Expert, Presenting the experience of MOLDOVA in preventing HIV/AIDS in penitentiaries; April 2009, Major Session Speaker at the 20th International Conference on the Harm Reduction, Thailand; June 2010, London Major Session Speaker at the 2nd European Conference “Drugs, Alcohol and Criminal Justice”.