An interview is presented with Saulius Caplinskas, a virologist serving as director of Lithuania's National Center to Combat AIDS and president of the AIDS Foundation, a nongovernmental organization (NGO). AIDS is viewed principally as a health issue in Lithuania, but other institutions are gradually becoming involved. Dr. Caplinskas simultaneously heads both a governmental and nongovernmental organization because some of the activities developed with risk groups are at the margin of existing laws. The NGO allows the government to be spared direct involvement in actions that the society is not yet ready to accept. Prevention programs are lacking in Lithuania because health education and promotion were a low priority of the former Soviet Union, and discussion of homosexuality, drug addiction, and prostitution was forbidden. Social workers are nonexistent in Lithuania. Government AIDS control programs in the region have been medically oriented. Lithuania's government program has a diagnostic laboratory and a department for medical, social, and psychological support of the seropositive. An AIDS hotline and an IEC section working with the general population, mass media, and specific target groups are other activities. NGOs working in the area of AIDS receive only indirect assistance, such as use of meeting rooms. NGOs are a new development in Lithuania, and the official attitude toward them remains cautious. The first priority of the AIDS program is to increase collaboration between specialists in sexually transmitted diseases, drug use, health education, and other relevant areas. A multisectorial approach should be developed to prepare for collaboration with the NGOs.
|Number of pages||2|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 1996|