Home > Health, rights and drugs. Harm reduction, decriminalization and zero discrimination for people who use drugs.

UNAIDS. (2019) Health, rights and drugs. Harm reduction, decriminalization and zero discrimination for people who use drugs. Geneva: UNAIDS. 68 p.

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This report outlines that although decriminalization of drug use and possession for personal use increases the provision, access and uptake of health and harm reduction services, criminalization and severe punishments remain commonplace. An estimated one in five people in prison globally are incarcerated for drug-related offences, around 80% of whom are in prison for possession for personal use alone. In addition, the report lists 35 countries that retain the death penalty for drug-related offences.

 

UNAIDS is also advocating for the full engagement of civil society as an essential source of information and to provide mobilization, advocacy and community-led services, especially in places where repressive policies and practices are the norm. In addition, UNAIDS is calling for sufficient funding for human rights programmes and health services that include harm reduction and HIV services, community-led responses and social enablers and the removal of drug- related and HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

 

Health, rights and drugs highlights that despite the effectiveness of harm reduction, investments in harm reduction measures are falling far short of what is needed for an effective HIV response. In 31 low- and middle-income countries that reported data to UNAIDS, 71% of spending on HIV services for people who use drugs was financed by external donors.

 

While some countries have made progress by implementing evidence-informed approaches that are grounded in human rights, most are still lagging far behind. Ahead of the ministerial segment of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which starts on 14 March 2019 in Vienna, Austria, UNAIDS is urging governments to revisit and refocus their approaches to drug policy by putting people at the centre and linking human rights to public health.

 

UNAIDS has outlined a set of recommendations for countries to adopt which include:

  • Fully implementing comprehensive harm reduction and HIV services, including needle–syringe programmes, opioid substitution therapy, overdose management with naloxone and safe consumption rooms.
  • Ensuring that all people who use drugs have access to prevention, testing and life-saving treatment for HIV, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.
  • Decriminalizing drug use and possession for personal use. Where drugs remain illegal, countries should adapt and reform laws to ensure that people who use drugs have access to justice, including legal services, and do not face punitive or coercive sanctions for personal use.
  • Taking action to eliminate all forms of stigma and discrimination experienced by people who use drugs.
  • Supporting the full engagement of civil society as a source of information and to provide community-led services, mobilization and advocacy, especially in places where repressive policies and practices are the norm.
  • Investing in human rights programmes and health services, including a comprehensive package of harm reduction and HIV services, community-led responses and social enablers.
Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Report
Drug Type:Opioid
Intervention Type:AOD disorder harm reduction
Date:2019
Pages:68 p.
Publisher:UNAIDS
Corporate Creators:UNAIDS
Place of Publication:Geneva
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:G Health and disease > Disorder by cause > Communicable disease > HIV
G Health and disease > Disorder by cause > Communicable disease > Hepatitis C
MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Policy > Policy on substance use > Drug decriminalisation or legalisation
T Demographic characteristics > Substance user
T Demographic characteristics > Intravenous / injecting drug user
VA Geographic area > International aspects

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