Side event: Reducing negative health and social consequences among injecting drug users in central Asia

The event was very much focused on how injecting drug use is fueling the HIV epidemic in central Asia. Injecting drug use is almost as twice as high than the global average and there are some cities in central Asia that have over 30 percent HIV prevalence. It was highlighted early on in the event the important role that civil society has in reducing HIV rates in Central Asia. Also it was urged that supply reduction should be orientated away from drug users and target high level drug traffickers, especially those that have links with corrupt government officials and that more public health services should be provided to drug users.

The government representative from Tajikstan accepted that HIV prevalence and injecting drug use has increased in the last decade and that in the present day the HIV epidemic, with injecting drug use as a driving factor, is a big issue. As well as harm reduction measures they are implementing rehabilitation, anti-relapse and psychosocial measures. They initiated OST measures in 2009 and initiated needle exchange measures in prisons in 2010. The representative from Kyrgyzstan starts of by explaining that the implemented OST and NSP programs in 2002 and they also extend to prisons.

The head of the UNODC office on HIV is mentioning there program covering 8 countries in the region specifically targeting injecting drug use, which they recognise as one of the main driving factors of HIV in the region. They have had success encouraging harm reduction measures in Azerbaijan. According to the UNODC representative, countries in the region are becoming more supportive.

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