See also:

Addressing Harm Reduction in drug use and HIV/AIDS strategies

Bangkok (Thailand), 11 March 2010
- The 7th meeting of the United Nations Regional Task Force - UNRTF, on Injecting Drug Use and HIV/AIDS for Asia and the Pacific convened in Bangkok, Thailand during 4-5 March 2010. The members are representatives from a range of constituencies, including government officials, UN agencies, donor partners, civil society and technical advisors. The meetings also include observers from the community of men and women who inject drugs, nominated by the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs.

The goal of the Task Force is to contribute to the reduction of HIV infection among and from injecting drug users by advocating a scaled-up HIV prevention, treatment and care response for people who inject drugs in the Asia Pacific region.

Main agenda items were presentation on the key findings and recommendations from an assessment of policies, resources and services; review of the Regional Strategy for Harm Reduction in Asia Pacific 2010-2015; resource mobilisation for harm reduction and compulsory centres for drug users.

In addition to the substantive agenda items, the meeting also included a presentation on the findings from the Integrated Biologic and Behavioural Survey by the Government of Afghanistan, progress reports by the Response Beyond Borders civil society initiative and the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs and UNICEF.

Major meeting outcomes

One of the main outcomes of the meeting was the adoption and endorsement of the Regional Strategy on Harm Reduction Asia Pacific 2010-2015. The Regional Strategy has been informed by the findings and recommendations from an assessment of policies, resources and services, commissioned by the Task Force in 2009 and conducted by the Burnet Institute.

In view of the significant financial resource gap for harm reduction in Asia, the meeting recommended that the Task Force members, donor partners, civil society and UN agencies, support countries in the development of proposals, with a strong component on harm reduction, to be submitted to Round 10 of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

As a result of discussions on compulsory centres for drug users, the Task Force observed that there are many models of such centres in the Asia region and that a single approach to this issue is inappropriate. The meeting agreed that the Task Force should continue to highlight concerns with such centres, such as the fact that they are not cost effective, they do not provide evidence-based drug dependence treatment, and may increase HIV risk. In this context, the Task Force agreed that the members continue to support country level efforts to advocate for evidence-based drug dependence treatment modalities that are voluntary and respect human rights.