UNAIDS calls for Harm Reduction investment with the aim of “Ending AIDS by 2030”

With the aim of “ending AIDS by 2030”, the UN agency for AIDS stresses the need for investment in Harm Reduction programs in order to ensure that people who use intravenous drugs have universal equal access to them. It calls for policies that respect human rights and the needs of injecting drug users (IDUs) and promote prevention, treatment, care and other support services associated with HIV. Similar are the recommendations from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), that also suggested the implementation of similar programs and services as a comprehensive package for vulnerable populations.

The existence of laws and policies that “do not cause harm to people who use drugs and increasing investments in harm reduction programmes and services results in a decrease in new HIV infections and improved health outcomes and delivers broader social benefits” (UNAIDS , 2016). Similarly, laws that provide alternative measures to imprisonment and prosecution for drug use and drug possession for personal use reduce the harmful effects associated with drug use use and do not lead to increased drug use. According to UNAIDS data, worldwide, there are: about 12 cm. People injecting drugs, of which 14% (1.6 mil.) Living with HIV and 50% (6 m.) With virus hepatitis C. also, in 2014 we had 140,000 new infections with the HIV virus in the population of IDUs without any apparent reduction in the annual number of these new infections in the four years from 2010 to 2014.

Scientific research clearly shows that Harm Reduction works, unlike laws and policies that undermine the access of people who use psychoactive substances to health services. In particular, “opioid substitution therapy has been associated with a 54% reduction in the risk of HIV infection among people who inject drugs and has been shown to decrease the risk of hepatitis C infection, to increase adherence to antiretroviral therapy for HIV, to lower out-of-pocket health expenditures and to reduce opioid overdose risk by almost 90%”.

Despite the large body of scientific evidence-based data, only 80 of the 158 countries in which injecting drug use has been documented have at least one location offering opioid substitution therapy, and only 43 countries have programmes in prisons. Needle–syringe programmes are available in only 90 countries and only 12 countries provide the recommended threshold of 200 sterile needles per person who injects drugs per year.
The United Nations stress that the non-availability of harm reduction services coupled with insufficient coverage, where available, jeopardizing effective HIV management. They recognize that the current investment in harm reduction services are insufficient, in order to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, and contrary to the commitments made in the 2016 Political Declaration to end AIDS and call for ever increasing initiatives in the field the Harm Reduction for people who use psychoactive substances.
Source: http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2016/october/20161010_harmreduction