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The UNODC Regional Representative visits harm reduction programs for heroin users in the Dominican Republic

With a view to reiterating UNODC's support to national efforts in key areas of the Organization's mandate, Mr. Amado Philip de Andrés and Mr. Olivier Inizan, UNODC's Regional Representative and Deputy Regional Representative for Central America and the Caribbean, respectively, and Ms. Begoña Gómez, UNODC's Country Manager in the Dominican Republic, visited the harm reduction programme of the Dominican NGO "Fundación Mesón de Dios".

Accompanied by the NGO's Executive President, Mr. Nilo Mercedes, the UNODC Delegation met with participants of the institution's syringe exchange program in the Capotillo neighborhood, as well as with participants of the UNODC Pilot Project on Medication Assisted Treatment with buprenorphine and naloxone for people who suffer heroin abuse-related disorders.

Opiate drugs, particularly heroin, generate a strong physical and psychological dependence, which, added to the progressive effect of addiction leads to the loss of risk assessment, and encourages the user to have unprotected sex and share injectable material, as well as to maintain low hygienic measures. This situation, together with the stigma and discrimination suffered by thies population, increases the risk factors in the transmission of HIV and other STDs.

According to the situation analysis carried out by the COIN NGO, estimates show that 47.6% of injecting drug users in the Dominican Republic did not use clean syringes every time they injected. The population that uses drugs tends to have a higher prevalence of HIV (8%), compared to the general population (0.8%).

Currently, scientific evidence supports the use of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) as one of the key instruments for the recovery of people addicted to opiates and opioids.