UNODC teams up with Baltic Governments to tackle HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users and prisoners

VIENNA, 14 November 2006 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is partnering with the Governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to help halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users and in prison settings.

The five million dollar project, funded by the Netherlands, will help these countries improve their HIV/AIDS prevention and care, particularly for injecting drug users and prison inmates. Throughout the four-year project period, UNODC will build partnerships with relevant national institutions and NGOs to increase access to services and information.

High-risk groups, such as prisoners and injecting drug users, will benefit from new and improved services aimed at minimizing the risks associated with injecting drug use. Attention will also be given to the specific needs of female injecting drug users and of young people. Grassroots organizations and regional networks will play an important role in reaching target groups, whose involvement will be sought in all stages of the project.

"I believe that this project can bolster the good work that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have already done to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Baltic countries," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa after signing the agreement with H. E. Mr. Rytis Paulauskas, the Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania.

"There are vulnerable groups within your societies where the risk of HIV/AIDS is high. There is a real danger of infections spreading through the use of contaminated injecting equipment and in prisons. This could have a wider impact on the general population."

UNODC is a global leader in the fight against illicit drugs and international crime, assisting countries in implementing large-scale interventions aimed at improving HIV/AIDS prevention and care services.

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For information contact:
Richard Murphy
Spokesman, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761