The purpose of the project Odziv na hiv (Eng. Response to hiv) is to establish and implement new integrated programs of safer-sex promotion and community-based hiv testing (outside health institutions). Simultaneously, capacity-building for experts who work with vulnerable groups is needed and we provide it. That is how the project partnership pursues the realization of the project’s general goal, which is to reduce or prevent transmission of hiv and alleviate the psychosocial distress of people living with hiv.
Why the project is needed?
Mainly in Slovenia new cases of hiv appear in men who have sex with men (MSM). The number is increasing, which may be a result of greater numbers of transmissions or increasing hiv testing rates in MSM. As a further problem a lack of specific knowledge about hiv and MSM population exists among health professionals. The general goal of the project is to reduce or prevent the spread of lifestyle-related diseases (hiv and other sexually transmitted infections – STIs among MSM).
Target group – who are MSM?
The target group are MSM – men who have sex with men (exclusively or occasionally) and those for which we assume they will anytime in their life behaviorally qualify as MSM. From the standpoint MSM identify as gay, homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual (having sex with men the latter are in conflict with their “straight” social identity). The members of the target group are living in urban and rural areas and are from a wide spectrum of different socioeconomic backgrounds. A special subgroup are young adolescents, which are at the beginning of or just before their first sexual relations. Special attention is given to older men. Many are living in heterosexual relationships or are single and have occasional sexual relations with same-sex partners.
Prevention and testing, informations and terrain work
The project will include an informational preventive campaign which will speak to the target group through brochures, leaflets, an extensive web portal, social networks and other channels. The campaign includes making documentary films, info-videos, two books and a magazine. In the field (outreach), we have identified gathering spots where prevention makes most sense to be implemented (cruising areas). As for testing as prevention (and curative, since we provide linkage to the public health system) we manage a community based hiv and STIs testing service. It incudes safer-sex counseling, harm-reducing sex-lifestyle choices advice and is anonymous, confidential and free.
Support and counseling
Our preventive goals are to increase the number of tests for hiv and other STIs, establish psychosocial support for people living with hiv (most importantly for newly diagnosed in the first year of getting diagnosed) with permanent access to counselling for all people who live with hiv. We have activated support groups for them and their partners. The project represents a bridge between the MSM hiv-community and healthcare organizations that already carry out the treatment of people living with hiv.