by Dasha Ocheret
I would like to draw your attention to the low coverage of HIV prevention programs of young people from key populations. NGOs working with key population often miss the opportunity to reach young people who use drugs, sex workers and men who have sex with men. In Eastern Europe, for instance, the mean age of harm reduction programs clients is over 30 years, and we fail to provide syringes, condoms and OST to young injectors or to prevent initiation of injections among who young people who use drugs but haven’t yet started injecting.
There are serious legal barriers that prevent us from engaging young people who use drugs in harm reduction services. Formally, our clients can’t be younger than 18 to be able to come and get clean syringes, access HIV testing in community settings and get any other forms of support. Young people cannot access opioid substitution treatment, and in practice they have to weight to get HIV, hepatitis C or tuberculosis to become eligible for drug treatment.
Another issue that prevents us from reaching young representative of key population is that we fail to involve them into planning, provision and evaluation of HIV prevention services. We hope that this thematic session will become a turning point in the meaningful participation young leaders from key populations in HIV advocacy.