23 March 2018 - Vienna, Austria - During the 61 st Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the side event "Prevention, treatment care and support for people who use stimulant drugs", organised by the Government of Romania and UNODC HIV Section, presented an opportunity to share and learn about the latest developments in the field of HIV and stimulant drug use.
Speakers included representatives from governmental agencies, community representatives and UNODC. The session was co-chaired by Catalin Negoi-Nita, Romanian National Anti-Drug Agency, and Dr Monica Beg, Chief of the HIV/AIDS Section and Global Coordinator for HIV/AIDS, UNODC.
Based on the World Drug Report, stimulant drugs such as Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), Cocaine and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), are, after cannabis, the most common drugs used in the world. In some groups of people who use stimulant drugs, HIV and Hepatitis C prevalence rates are much higher than in the community.
Catalin Negoi-Nita, Romanian National Anti-Drug Agency, described the HIV outbreak in Romania as directly linked to the increasing consumption of NPS in 2007. He presented the measures his government took to contain the epidemic, including risk assessment strategies, a focus on prevention and harm reduction interventions, as well as international cooperation within the Framework of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and European decisions in this matter.
The link between stimulant drug use and unsafe sex practices was highlighted by Dr. Taras Grytsenko, Public Health Centre of the Ministry of Health Ukraine. In the context of Ukraine a rising use of home-made low-quality drugs and a switch from opiates to stimulant drugs was observed among internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to Dr. Grytsenko.
In Brazil, HIV among people who use crack or cocaine is 8 times higher than in the general population, as shown by Nara Denilse de Araújo, Ministry of Health of Brazil. Despite the fact that the HIV epidemic has stabilised in Brazil, there are still some populations that were left behind. The country is now facing a "concentrated epidemic" among men who have sex with men, female sex workers and people who use crack or cocaine.
Having established a working group with civil society organisations on stimulant drugs and HIV in 2013, an implementation guide for HIV and Hepatitis services for people who use stimulant drugs is currently being developed by UNODC. This guidance tool will be essential in tackling new HIV epidemics among people who use stimulant drugs, in particular among subgroups of men who have sex with men and sex workers.
Speaking at the session, the four chapters of the tool were presented by Dr Monica Ciupagea, Expert on Drug use and HIV, HIV/AIDS Section, UNODC.
Participating in the side event, Judy Chang, International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD), acknowledged the team of peer writers who contributed to the guidance tool, as well as the "pioneering funding" by the Government of Brazil and contributions of Mainline on behalf of the Government of Germany. She praised the tool as a "coherent document with a single voice".
Brun Gonzalez, INPUD, described the long process, culminating in the focussed guide on stimulant drugs, which are embedded in a culture of productivity and high performance. He also highlighted how platforms of knowledge around the world became more diverse and started to "listen to the experiences of the community".
Dr Gilberto Gerra, Chief, Drug Prevention and Health Branch, Division for Operations, UNODC, stressed the need for bringing a "coalition about moving the issue of treatment of stimulant drugs with stimulant medication" to the forefront.