UNODC chief discusses responses to HIV/ AIDS among drug users and prisoners

Photo: iStock13 April 2012 -  At a time of declining international aid flows to low income countries  home to a high number of people living with HIV, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, yesterday addressed  the 36th Meeting of the UNAIDS Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations (CCO) in Geneva. "This is resulting in a devastating situation, particularly in those countries where HIV epidemics are concentrated among key population groups such as drug users", said Mr. Fedotov, adding that "life saving HIV services are closing down".

UNODC is playing a critical role in assisting governments to tackle drug demand reduction and to provide comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment and care. The need for targeted and integrated services for drug users was more important than ever, said the Executive Director.

Mr. Fedotov expressed particular concern about the increasing global abuse of synthetic drugs, mainly amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and prescription drugs. Increasing evidence suggests that the use of ATS facilitates HIV transmission.  Methamphetamine use elevates the risk of contracting HIV and increases the progression of the disease.

Mr. Fedotov informed the CCO about the decisions taken by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March 2012 to protect vulnerable sectors of society. The CND, which is the central policy-setting body within the United Nations system dealing with illicit drugs, adopted resolutions on promoting measures addressing specific needs of drug dependent women; and on alternatives to imprisonment as a measure to promote public health and public safety.

UNAIDS is co-sponsored by ten UN agencies. UNODC is the lead agency for addressing HIV prevention, treatment and care among drug users and in prison settings. In March, UNODC reported that, in 2009, one injecting drug user in every five was living with HIV.

UNAIDS and UNODC support HIV service delivery for some of the most marginalized people in Afghanistan, namely female prisoners and drug users. There are 110,000 female drug users in Afghanistan and only one tenth have access to treatment services. UNODC, in partnership with national stakeholders and local non-governmental organizations, has provided HIV/AIDS information and treatment services to over 3,000 women.

UNODC will soon publish a Technical Guide for HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care for Stimulant Users; and a Comprehensive Package of Interventions for HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care in Prisons and Other Closed Settings.

Related Information: