Effective HIV/AIDS Prevention for Drug Dependant People

In Azerbaijan 24,000 drug addicts were officially registered at the end of 2009,  18,000 (75%) of them were intravenous drug users (IDU). Furthermore, 70% of the registered addicts were opioid users. Concentrated HIV epidemics in the country have been driven by unsafe injecting practices, compiling 64.2% of all HIV cases. The round table devoted to "New Policy, revised legislation, updated strategy toward effective prevention of HIV/AIDS among drug user" has been organized by the UNODC Programme Office and the Parliament of Azerbaijan in  Lenkoran. The city is situated on a trafficking route that provoke high prevalence of IDUs, HIV/AIDS and other concomitant diseases, including Tuberculosis (TB). Participants discussed wide range of issues including improvement of IDU's access to integrated HIV/AIDS services as well as  strengthening partnerships and multisectoral cooperation between respective offices such as health, law enforcement, social protection, education and non-governmental organizations;  new legislation and normative frameworks which impact on improvement of monitoring and control of effective HIV/AIDS prevention; raising awareness on HIV prevention  at a district level, in order to establish a model for integrated and easily accessible services (including  health, law enforcement, and social protection and non-government sectors) for most-at-risk populations (MARPs) in the community. Representatives of law enforcement agencies expressed their concerns in regard to suitability of the Opiate Substition Treatment (OST), as applied in  Lenkoran. Participants mentioned that the previous use of OST has shown that this method is the only way to control  drug situation, since most IDUs  sell illegal drugs in order to meet their own needs. Representatives of the National AIDS Centre updated participants on the current HIV/AIDS situation, with a particular focus on MARPs. Introducing OST within the National AIDS Centre has significantly increased ARV treatment adherence among drug users, currently composing 70% of all patients. Representatives from non-governmental organizations shared their experience in providing outreach services for drug users.