Treatment of Drug Use Disorders and HIV Prevention among people who use drugs – sharing best practices

© UNODC

The implementation of the International Standards on the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders as well as a strong engagement of local communities and civil society are an important factor in successfully protecting people’s health and wellbeing. 

On March 17th, 2021, The UNODC Civil Society Unit (CSU) together with theVienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC)  hosted a webinar for civilsociety on the International Standards on the Treatment of Drug Use Disorder and the Technical Guide for Countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users.  

Mirella DummarFrahifrom the UNODC CSUand Jamie Bridge from theVNGOC openedthe webinarthatgathered 250participants.An interactivepresentation by Giovanna CampelloUNODC Chief of Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section on the International Standards on the Treatment of Drug Use Disordersfollowed. She explained the evolution of the development of the Standards that benefit from the successful implementation of the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention by many member states. She also emphasized the need for special treatment for people with special needs. The treatment system organization pyramid as well as the pharmacological interventions for the management of dependence were also introduced. Finally, the important role that community engagement plays in base intervention for the protection of people’s health was also underlined. 

Moreover, Monica Ciupagea, from the UNODC HIV/AIDS Section provided very valuable insights on the available guidelines on HIV Prevention, treatment, care and support forboth groups of people – who use drugs and are in prisons. She gave insight into useful documentation on HIV prevention, treatment and care among people who inject drugs, focusing on the much-needed involvement of local communitiesCiupagea also emphasized treatment for women who inject drugs. The last focus was on publications addressing HIV transmission. Lastly, useful resources analysing the impact and responses of the COVID-19 pandemic in this field were also provided. 

Furthermore, the invited civil society panellistDevin de Koker from STAND South Africa, shed light on the civil society perspective on the treatment of drug use disorder and HIV prevention for injecting drug usersHe explained the cornerstones of the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment in the context of South AfricaThe main challenges that rural regions face were showcased by him, and they are often cannot count on professionals or appropriate services to tackle the problem. Last but not least, de Koker analyzed the impact of the socioeconomic context on SUD treatment, saying that if norms and standards are followed, this challenge could be overcome.

In theopendiscussion andQ&A sessionmoderated by Jamie Bridgefrom VNGOC participantsaddressed questions tothespeakerson a diverse range of issuesregardingthe countries’ alignment with the recommendations and the need for cooperation, on problems concerning identification and response, the role of the civil society as a cornerstone of the solution and the importance of the individualization of the treatment. 

In concluding the eventMirella Dummar Frahiremindedofthe opportunities of the NGO marketplace platform, where NGOs can share drug-related experiences and expertise.