Community of people who use drugs learning to protect their Human Rights, gaining possibility of experience exchange and making their voices heard by decision makers.
Harm reduction refers to a set of measures that aim to reduce the harms associated with the use of drugs, including HIV, TB and viral hepatitis. Harm reduction has public health, human rights and socio-economic value. It is evidence-based, rights affirming and cost effective.
People who use drugs (PWUD) in EECA face systematic human rights violations. Mass incarceration, ill-treatment by police, denial of essential medicines and basic healthcare services are common in the region and are driven by repressive drug policies. Existing drug enforcement practices increase the exposure of PWUD to drug-related harms and undermine the regional response to HIV, TB, viral hepatitis and other public health issues.
People who use drugs (PWUD) are often not considered valid policy or service partners in issues that directly affect their lives. However, EHRN recognizes that PWUD are part of the solution and should not be seen as the problem. EHRN works to support the meaningful participation and community mobilization of PWUD.
Despite making formal commitments to the principles of a balanced and health-oriented drug policy, many countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) are failing to treat drug use as a public health issue. Some countries, in fact, have regressed to more repressive rhetoric directed at people who use drugs (PWUD).
Women who use drugs (WUD) in EECA do not have equal access to health and harm reduction services. Social stereotypes and perceptions about a woman’s role in the family and society have prompted massive and systematic violence against WUD, including double stigma and structural discrimination in many countries. Gender-sensitive harm reduction services are largely absent for WUD and they are rarely represented in policy discussions.
To address the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), public sector investments in EECA countries must be strategic and focus on interventions for people who inject drugs, which is the population most affected by HIV in the region.
Over the last decade, the Global Fund has played a unique and indispensable role in responding to the HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), where national governments are still either reluctant or outright resistant to invest in harm reduction programs.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) remains the only region in the world where new HIV infections continue to increase, reflecting the failure to implement the set of harm reduction approaches for people who inject drugs (PWID) that are recommended by the World Health Organization.
Tuberculosis (TB) is now a curable disease. Nevertheless, TB remains the leading cause of death among people who use drugs (PWUD) who are also living with HIV. The absence of appropriate TB care systems for PWUD causes low levels of TB diagnosis and treatment as well as the fast and concerning spread of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) among this key population.
Opioid substitution therapy (OST) is a highly effective harm reduction measure and proven treatment for dependency on heroin and other opioid drugs. Despite the strong supporting scientific evidence, availability of OST remains very limited across most countries in the region, while Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan prohibit OST.
The prevalence of hepatitis C among injecting drug users in EECA is among the highest in the world. However, this is matched by extremely low levels of treatment access, which means that people continue to die of cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
In many countries, overdose is the leading preventable cause of death among people experiencing problems with drugs. Overdose prevention measures delivered in community settings are incredibly effective; the introduction and scaling up of such measures would save lives of thousands of people.