INDEPENDENT REFERENCE GROUP TO THE UNITED NATIONS CALLS FORMEMBER STATES TO SCALE UP EVIDENCE-BASED INTERVENTIONS TO ADDRESS HIV AMONG PEOPLE WHO INJECT DRUGS AHEAD OF THE HIGH LEVELMEETING ON AIDS

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On the eve of the 2011 high level meeting on HIV/AIDS, the Independent Reference Group  to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug Use calls for Member States to scale up  evidence-based interventions to address HIV among people who inject drugs .  Although injecting drug use continues to fuel the HIV epidemic in many countries, particularly in Eastern Europe and Asia, the majority of people who inject drugs remain unable to access quality HIV prevention or treatment.  There are an estimated 16 million people who inject calls on Member States to commit to an evidence-based and rights-based public health approach to reach universal access to quality HIV prevention and treatment for people who inject drugs and to revise punitive drug policies that counteract and undermine public health and human rights.  More specifically, the Reference Group calls on countries to:

 

1.       Improve engagement with people who inject drugs in shaping responses to HIV/AIDS.

 

2. Support a public health, rights-based approach to HIV programming that recognizes that access to life-saving, proven interventions for the prevention and treatment of HIV is a human right for all people, including people who inject drugs. 

 

3. Urgently implement and/or scale up the comprehensive package of nine interventions outlined in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS technical guide for the prevention and treatment of HIV among people who inject drugs.

 

4. Remove legislation and policies that prevent the introduction or inhibit the delivery of these nine interventions. 

 

5. Commit to ending punitive law enforcement approaches to injecting drug use.

 

6. Improve integration of HIV services with treatment for drug dependence

 

7. Commit to treating health conditions that co-occur alongside HIV among people who inject drugs.

 

8. Gather data to enhance the response to HIV among people who inject drugs.

 

 

As Member States prepare for the 2011 High Level meeting, the Reference Group would like to refer members to the 2010 Consensus Statement which forms the basis for this call to action.  This statement was developed by the Reference Group at the request of the United Nations to inform the policy development and priority setting by UN agencies involved in addressing HIV and injecting drug use. It draws on research examining the effectiveness of interventions to address HIV and injecting drug use and their impact in differing contexts around the world. The full report and summary of recommendations can be accessed at: www.idurefgroup.com as well as the UNAIDS, UNODC and WHO websites.

 

The Reference Group to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug Use was established in 2002 and provides independent advice to the United Nations system on matters related to injecting drug use and HIV. The Group consists of experts from around the world and includes researchers, clinicians and representatives from civil society organisations.



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