Fixpunkt e.V. is a harm reduction service provider established in 1989 in Berlin. Fixpunkt provides large-scale harm reduction services including needle syringe distribution, counselling, a drop-in centre, a drug consumption room and outreach activities.
Fixpunkt started their hepatitis-related activities at the beginning of the 1990s, in the framework of a HIV prevention programme. Services on viral hepatitis started in 1996 with hepatitis A and B testing and vaccination, to which hepatitis C antibody testing was later added. Testing for hepatitis C is now part of its daily activities.
Injecting drug use is one of the main risk factors for contracting hepatitis C. The hepatitis C virus can easily spread when a person comes into contact with surfaces, equipment, or objects that are contaminated with infected blood. Sharing or reusing needles and syringes therefore increases the chance of spreading the virus. In addition, any equipment, such as cookers, cottons, water, ties, and alcohol swabs, can easily become contaminated during the drug preparation process.
Fixpunkt’s hepatitis-related activities cover:
- Awareness and prevention: Fixpunkt provide direct information both via handout materials and through pre- and post-test counselling. In particular, the risks of hepatitis C and the necessary precautionary measures are explained, while people who are injecting drugs use other services for example when receiving sterile syringes or in the drug consumption room.
- Training: Fixpunkt arrange annual mandatory training sessions on basic hepatitis C literacy for their staff and an intensive drug counselling course for newcomers.
- Testing and HBV/HAV vaccination: At Fixpunkt, patients can get hepatitis B and C and HIV testing and hepatitis A and B vaccination, rapid hepatitis C and HIV diagnostic tests, venipuncture and laboratory testing for RNA and hepatitis C core antigen assay by qualified staff and supervised by a doctor. Testing data are collected for reporting and research purposes.
- Treatment and Care: Since treatment in community settings is not common in Germany, Fixpunkt refer those who have been tested positively to external medical doctors specialized in infection medicine and drug dependence medicine, depending on the situation. In addition to that, Fixpunkt offers support to get access to health services and health insurance and disease self-management support, such as reduction of risky drug consumption behavior.
To provide these services, Fixpunkt rely on quite an extended network that includes not only healthcare specialists but also and foremost local authorities and other political and administrative bodies. Fixpunkt is also highly involved in advocacy activities at every level, from local health authorities to government representatives and, as a result have developed close cooperation with high-level politicians responsible for health issues and who follow the impact of harm reduction services.
The Fixpunkt experience demonstrates that strong political and administrative support are crucial. In particular, a clear political framework and a developed network of relevant stakeholders are essential for any organisation to achieve its objectives.
Fixpunkt e.V. receives regular funding for its hepatitis-related activities, mostly from government resources.
Telephone: +49 (0)30 616 755 881