Intervention on agenda item 5 – follow-up to the thematic segment from the 35th PCB (on halving HIV transmission among PWID)
Delivered by Alexandra (Sasha) Volgina, Europe NGO Delegate
I want to thank the (UNAIDS) regional director of my region for the report and to stress that the role of the regional office grew during last years, but as well let me share some of concerns. We appreciate your fundraising efforts but we insist you make sure you are staying independent and don’t forget your advocacy agenda.
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA), 79% of all HIV infections are among PWID. The epidemic in our region is driven by people who use drugs (PWUD). The criminalization of people who use drugs fuels stigma and vulnerability. PWUD face the denial of essential medicines and basic healthcare services. Harm Reduction remains underfunded in most EECA countries. It has been estimated that only 10% of us have access to harm reduction services. The problem of inadequate funding is expected to get worse. About 78% harm reduction funds in our region come from international sources and many of our middle income countries MAY soon be cut off from support from the Global Fund. The inclusion of decision points on funding of harm reduction and other services for drug users and at least ALTERNATIVES TO incarceration will help us and our supporters to advocate for positive change in our region.
We do see that there is the line between war on drugs and between war on people. We want all of us to see it as clear as we do, and end the WAR ON PEOPLE. In my region we have countries in Central Asia, which have huge DRUG TRAFFICKING problems, we know from our own experience what drugs traffic brings into our countries. We have this understanding, but as well, we need to look at the situation from public health prospective – if we will not be able to stop war on people and provide needed funding, we will never even be able to get close to achieving 90/90/90 targets.