6-7 March 2023 – Virtual: As part of the 66th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section organized the 3rd pre-CND Consultative Meeting in close cooperation with the International AIDS Society (IAS), the International Network of People who use Drugs (INPUD), World Health Organization (WHO) and The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). This virtual pre-CND Consultative Meeting continued a dialogue format initiated in 2021 between academia, civil society and the community of people who use drugs. Annually, the consultation serves as a forum for information exchange and knowledge sharing.
At this year’s pre-CND consultation, the focus has been laid upon the relationship between health and human rights, as well as the impact of structural inequalities on the HIV and hepatitis response among people who use drugs. It also emphasized good practices and strategies that must be implemented to connect science, policy, and clinical practice, as well as to ensure that people who use drugs are treated with dignity and respect.
This two-day multi-stakeholder consultation was attended by over 40 participants from the community of people who use drugs and academia with experience in public health, human rights, prisons, and closed environments.
Mr. Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director, Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC, underlined in his opening remarks that discrimination against and stigmatization and exclusion of key populations are costing lives and preventing the world from achieving its goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. He noted that key populations account for less than 5% of the global population, but they and their sexual partners comprised 70% of new HIV infections in 2021. People who inject drugs accounted for 10% of HIV infections globally.
This two-days pre-CND consultation included four sessions, each of which covered a different issue connected to harm reduction as well as human rights and HIV and people who use drugs. The first session concentrated on the coverage of the harm reduction services to prevent HIV infection. This session featured three presentations that provided information on the access to harm reduction services; the global epidemiology of injecting drug use, HIV, and harm reduction coverage; and emerging trends affecting harm reduction
Moving on to the second session where the focus was laid on the compulsory treatment centres for people who use drugs. In relation to these treatment centres country examples of East and Southeast Asia were presented. The third session of the second day of this multi-stakeholder forum provided strategies as well as country examples from Indonesia and Australia on HIV and Hepatitis interventions in prisons. In the last session the closure topic was dedicated to policies and practices to enable access to HIV and viral Hepatitis services among people who use drugs. Presentations ensuring human rights-based drug policy in Sub-Saharan Africa; EECA context on decriminalization; and actions of the Global Fund in relation to human rights and people who use drugs have been showcased for the global audience.
After four panel discussions, it was concluded that in addition to greater data collecting on the prevalence and diversity of drug use, there is still room for additional reporting and monitoring of how human rights affect access to all health, HIV and viral hepatitis services for people who use drugs. It was suggested that people who use drugs might also take on leadership responsibilities in this area. Data on human rights and health access must cover both the community and prisons.
The deliberations of this multi-stakeholder consultation’s group of experts resulted in a statement delivered on March 15th at the plenary of the 66th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs by the Immediate Past President of the International AIDS Society, Professor of Infectious Diseases, Ms. Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
(Please access the statement here)