Donors, Governments Must Increase Support For Harm Reduction Services To Prevent HIV

Devex: Opinion: The global HIV response is neglecting people who use drugs
Naomi Burke-Shyne, deputy director of Harm Reduction International

“…People who inject drugs are one of the most at-risk populations for HIV and over 20 times more likely to contract the virus than the general public. The risks are entirely preventable. Harm reduction services, such as needle and syringe programs and opioid substitution therapy, are proven to prevent HIV and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs and are cost-effective. … Though there is a clear need to scale-up these services, our new research shows international donor funding for harm reduction is falling, and with it placing the global HIV/AIDS response in peril. … It is astounding that in the face of this crisis and with governments claiming they are committed to ending AIDS by 2030, financial support for harm reduction is waning. … The majority of governments exclude, criminalize, and demonize people who inject drugs, in the process creating a barrier for them to access HIV services. Governments are, in effect, creating their own public health crises. … If governments are serious in realizing their shared goal of ending AIDS, donors must increase support for person-centered harm reduction services…” (7/24).

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