Meeting the treatment needs of people who use drugs
Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 12 December 2009 -Representatives from 12 countries, affected communities, donor agencies, technical experts and three key United Nations agencies - UNODC, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) - expressed their commitment to continue expanding HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes for people who use drugs.
At a meeting convened by the
United Nations Regional Taskforce on Injecting Drug Use and HIV/AIDS for Asia and the Pacific, participants developed a five-year regional strategy addressing HIV and drug use, particularly injecting drug use. A draft regional strategy for harm reduction in Asia and the Pacific for the period 2010-2015 was considered and steps identified to implement the strategy, with a view to achieving universal access to prevention, care, support and treatment for people who use drugs and are at risk of contracting HIV.
On 7 December, opening addresses were given by Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, J.V.R. Prasada Rao, UNAIDS Director of the Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, Gary Lewis, UNODC Regional Representative for East Asia and the Pacific, and Dean Lewis, speaking on behalf of the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs.
During the three-day meeting, participants looked at the progress made over the past five years in establishing services in the region and focused on how countries could scale up services to meet the challenge of HIV with regard to injecting drug use, which continues to drive the HIV epidemic in this region. The United Nations has already provided guidance on service levels in a technical guide on setting targets. Participants also examined the key issues that are likely to affect plans in the future, including the emergence of new drugs and their use in the region, co-infection with viral hepatitis and the need for sustainable programme planning. They also made recommendations on how regional agencies could support this process.
The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific was responsible for organizing the meeting, which enjoyed the support of the Swedish Agency for International Development.