Drug Use, HIV & AIDS Prevention, Treatment & Care and Sustainable Livelihood

Activities under this Sub-Programme are targeted to support Member States to implementing large-scale and wide-ranging interventions to prevent drug use, to provide evidence informed drug dependence treatment and effective HIV prevention among people who inject drugs and prisoners. 

Drug use poses significant health and development challenges in the region. Cannabis is widely grown in several countries and its use is widespread. Several studies have indicated that heroin use is also severely affecting the region and the emergence of injecting drug use has compounded the HIV situation as well. The use of cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) is also reported in the region. 

Eastern Africa is the second most seriously affected region by HIV in the world after Southern Africa. Countries in the region have made major progress in reducing HIV infection in the general population during the past two decades. In Kenya for example the prevalence has dropped to 14% to 5%. However, new concentrated HIV epidemics have emerged among key populations and these include People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) and prisoners. 

UNODC has partnered with Governments and Civil Society Organisations in Eastern Africa, the African Union, UNAIDS and bilateral partners, in particular PEPFAR/USAID in Kenya. UNODC has pioneered an innovative outreach programme in Kenya to reach hard to find drug users and linking them to HIV and drug dependance treatment services.   

UNAIDS, WHO and UNODC have developed a comprehensive package of nine key interventions to prevent HIV among PWIDs. Its implementation remains a challenge. Mauritius and Mainland Tanzania are the only countries in the region to implement the full package while Kenya is on the verge of adopting Medically Assisted Therapy. Seychelles and Zanzibar are still discussing whether they will implement needle and syringe programmes to prevent HIV among PWIDs.

Eleven countries in Eastern Africa have been introduced ti the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention and national consultations are planned to sensitise wider audiences at country level. The capacity of countries has been significantly enhanced to provide evidence-based drug dependence treatment.

Prisons in the region in general are congested and are not always sufficiently equipped to provide adequate health services to their inmates. HIV in prisons is fuelled by a number of factors intrinsic to prison systems, namely men having sex with men, tattooing with infected needles and injecting drug use. UNODC has developed several guidance notes and a comprehensive package of fifteen key interventions to prevent HIV and TB in prisons. Prisons administrations in the region are to be credited for their keenness to improve prison health and prison management as a whole.