BMJ article describes HIV epidemic among people who inject drugs in parts of the Region

A systematic review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ)  reveals major gaps in preventing HIV infection in people who inject drugs, while numbers of new HIV cases continue to increase in this key population in central and eastern parts of the European Region. By analysing data available, the study demonstrates a high prevalence of HIV infection in many countries and a low to non-existent coverage with key interventions for people who inject drugs. It also highlights factors such as gender, socio-economic status and contact with law enforcement agencies to be associated with the HIV prevalence in this population.

These results demonstrate the need for urgent action to improve policy and social environments and scale up provision of prevention services to estimated 3.1 million people who inject drugs in central and eastern Europe and central Asia, of whom one million are estimated to have already been infected with the virus.

Technical guide provides tools for universal access to HIV prevention

A joint WHO, UNAIDS and UNODC technical guide provides countries with tools to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users. It describes a comprehensive package of nine core interventions for people who inject drugs, including:

  • needle and syringe programmes
  • opioid substitution therapy
  • provision of antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV testing and counselling
  • prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • condom programmes 
  • targeted information, education and communication for people who inject drugs and their sexual partners
  • diagnosis and treatment of and vaccination for viral hepatitis
  • prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.