Our global advocacy project on people who use, and specifically inject drugs aims to improve their meaningful participation in HIV policies and programmes, influence legal and policy reform, and deliver greater investment to make universal access to HIV services a reality. It will achieve these aims by working with the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) to support evidence-informed advocacy.
Drugs, HIV, Hepatitis and dependency
Over 200 million people use illicit drugs around the world, including 15.9 million injecting drug users (IDUs). Most of these people are now in the developing world. Twenty-seven countries impose forms of compulsory detention on drug users, while 32 countries apply the death penalty for drug offences. Injecting drug use is a key driver of HIV epidemics in various settings, with high HIV prevalence evident among drug users.
In my country, people who use drugs do not feel entitled to human rights and the majority view in our society remains that drug users do not deserve human rights. This is the political context that underpins many of the problems faced by our community – HIV, hepatitis, and discrimination. To make changes in the political system, we must unite our efforts and work together. INPUD and BtG supported the founding meeting of the Eurasian Network of People who Use Drugs (ENPUD) during the AIDS2012 Kiev Hub on 9-10th July 2012. ENPUD was established to advocate for the interests and to promote the rights of the drug using community in Eurasia. Such networks are the voice of our community and part of wider social development movements that are calling for the respect for the human rights of people who use drugs. Alex, Russian Federation
IDUs are also particularly vulnerable to the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), with over half of IDUs infected in many countries. Liver disease from HCV is now a leading cause of death among people living with HIV. This is particularly the case in Asia and Eastern Europe where cost and exclusion criteria stop people who use drugs from accessing HCV treatment. Opioid substitution programmes are a key part of an effective harm reduction approach and have been proven to be an effective means of preventing HIV transmission and improving adherence to antiretroviral treatment and TB treatment.
Our global advocacy project on people who use drugs works in partnership with INPUD to:
- Develop policy and programmatic guidance;
- Strengthen the meaningful participation of people who use drugs in national and international processes;
- Gather and disseminate evidence-informed and co-ordinated advocacy;
- Strengthen the capacity of regional and national drug user leaders and networks;
- Strengthen the management and operation of INPUD as a global network.
In Nepal, India, Pakistan, Kenya and Ukraine we are piloting ways of developing more meaningful participation of people who use drugs in the services that they use. Regional networks of people who use drugs can also play an important role in enabling professional and peer-to-peer dialogue. We are supporting three regional networks in this way and are documenting the impact of our investment.