All people have the right to health, even in countries under lockdown or where a state of emergency has been declared. This includes access to life-saving HIV harm reduction services and programmes in the community, as well as health care services in prisons.

COVID-19 prevention and control among people who use drugs

People who use drugs can be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues, stigma, social marginalization and higher economic and social vulnerabilities, including a lack of access to housing and health care.

COVID-19 prevention and control among people in prison

The prison environment is highly conducive to the transmission of infections, including droplet infections such as COVID-19. This is due to several risk factors such as overcrowding and poor ventilation, as well as inadequate health services, in some countries.

People in prison have a right to health at the same standards as other members of society and should have access to necessary health care services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status.

What UNODC is doing

UNODC is working with governments, civil society and community partners to:

  • Assess the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on availability and accessibility of HIV prevention, treatment and care services.
  • Assess the likelihood of interruption to HIV services for people who use drugs and people in prison and develop contingency plans for continued access to those services.
  • Develop and disseminate specific technical guidance on HIV service provision for people who use drugs and people in prison in the context of COVID-19 prevention and control.

What UNODC recommends

… for people who use drugs

The continuity and sustainability of Comprehensive HIV and HCV and other low-threshold services for people who use drugs must be ensured during the COVID-19 pandemic. Closing down services will only result in the overcrowding of those that stay open, which will increase transmission risks and impact on service quality.

Comprehensive HIV and HCV and other low-threshold services for people who use drugs should establish a safe working environment for the service providers.

<div style="text-align:center"><a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_1.pdf">English</a> (original) | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/rus_Infographics_1.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/AR_Infographics_1.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infografia1_COVID19_UDs_VIH.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/French_infographics_1.pdf">French</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infor_graphic_HIV_Prevention_to_PWIDs_01_Dari.pdf">Dari</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_PWUD_Myanmar_1.pdf">Myanmar</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_Serbian_1.pdf">Serbian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_1_-_port.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
English (original) | Russian | Arabic | Spanish | French | Dari | Myanmar | Serbian | Portuguese
<div style="text-align:center"><a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_2.pdf">English</a> (original) | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/rus_Infographics_2.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/AR_Infographics_2.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infografia2_COVID_UDs_VIH.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/French_infographics_2.pdf">French</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infor_graphic_HIV_Prevention_to_PWIDs_02_Dari.pdf">Dari</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_PWUD_Myanmar_2.pdf">Myanmar</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_Serbian_2.pdf">Serbian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_2_-_port.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
English (original) | Russian | Arabic | Spanish | French | Dari | Myanmar | Serbian | Portuguese
<div style="text-align:center"><a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_3.pdf">English</a> (original) | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/rus_Infographics_3.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/AR_Infographics_3.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infografia3_COVID_UDs_VIH.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/French_infographics_3.pdf">French</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infor_graphic_HIV_Prevention_to_PWIDs_03_Dari.pdf">Dari</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_PWUD_Myanmar_3.pdf">Myanmar</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographic_Serbian_3.pdf">Serbian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/People_who_use_drugs/Infographics_3_-_PORT.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
English (original) | Russian | Arabic | Spanish | French | Dari | Myanmar | Serbian | Portuguese
For guidance on continuity of drug treatment, care and rehabilitation services – click here.

 

… for people in prison

Ensure that prisons are included in national preparedness and response plans for COVID-19. The continuity and sustainability of comprehensive HIV and HCV services for people in prison must be ensured during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensure that health services in prisons are at least commensurate to those outside and that people living and working in prison have access to preventive and control measures, diagnostics and care for COVID-19 and other health conditions (HIV, HCV, drug dependence, mental health), in a manner that respects medical ethics and human rights.

Consider non-custodial measures at all stages of the administration of criminal justice, including at pre-trial, trial and sentencing and post-sentencing. Priority should be given to non-custodial measures for alleged offenders and sentenced people with low-risk profiles and caring responsibilities, with preference given to pregnant women and women with dependent children.

<div style="text-align:center"><a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_new.pdf">English</a> (original) | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Infographie_Prison_1_FR_FInal_120420.pdf">French</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_esp.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_AR_Final_12_4_2020.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_RUS.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_Myanmar.pdf">Myanmar</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_1_new_-_port.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
<div style="text-align:center"><a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_new.pdf">English</a> (original) | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Infographie_Prison_2_FR_Final_120420.pdf">French</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_esp.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_AR_Final_12_4_2020-.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_RUS.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_Myanmar.pdf">Myanmar</a> | <a href="/documents/hiv-aids/publications/Prisons_and_other_closed_settings/Prison_Infographic_2_new_-_port.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
For tools and publications on crime prevention and criminal justice, including guidance on COVID-19 prevention and control in prison settings  – click here.
<div style="text-align:center">UNODC position paper on COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/20-02110_Position_paper_EN.pdf">English</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/20-02216_Position_paper_FR.pdf">French</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/20-02218_Position_paper_ES.pdf">Spanish</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/20-02215_Position_paper_AR.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/20-02217_Position_paper_RU.pdf">Russian</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/COVID-19/UNODC_Position_paper-COVID-19_in_prisons_Chinese_version.pdf">Chinese</a> | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/UNODC_Nota_de_Posicionamento_-_COVID_19_Virus.pdf">Portuguese</a></div>
UNODC position paper on COVID-19 preparedness and responses in prisons | English | French | Spanish | Arabic | Russian | Chinese | Portuguese
<div style="text-align: center;">UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR Joint Statement on COVID-19 in Prisons and Other Closed Settings | <a href="https://www.unodc.org/documents/Advocacy-Section/20200513_PS_covid-prisons_en.pdf">English</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/20200513_PS_covid-prisons_ar.pdf">Arabic</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/20200513_PS_covid-prisons_zh.pdf">Chinese</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/fr/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2020/may/20200513_joint-statement-covid19-prisons">French</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/20200513_PS_covid-prisons_pt.pdf">Portuguese</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/ru/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2020/may/20200513_joint-statement-covid19-prisons">Russian</a> | <a href="https://www.unaids.org/es/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2020/may/20200513_joint-statement-covid19-prisons">Spanish</a></div>
UNODC, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR Joint Statement on COVID-19 in Prisons and Other Closed Settings | English | Arabic | Chinese | French | Portuguese | Russian | Spanish
Other relevant publications
<p>UNAIDS - Rights in the time of COVID-19. Lessons from HIV for an effective, community-led response</p>

UNAIDS - Rights in the time of COVID-19. Lessons from HIV for an effective, community-led response

<p>WHO - Interim Guidance 15 March 2020 - Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention</p>

WHO - Interim Guidance 15 March 2020 - Preparedness, prevention and control of COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention

<p class="article-header__title">Prisons and custodial settings are part of a comprehensive response to COVID-19 (The Lancet, 2020)</p>

Prisons and custodial settings are part of a comprehensive response to COVID-19 (The Lancet, 2020)