International Harm Reduction Conference Begins In Lithuania

The four-day International Harm Reduction Conference opened in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sunday, drawing “hundreds of scientists, politicians, researchers, health workers, doctors and activists from about 70 countries” to “focus on an HIV hotspot: central and eastern Europe and central Asia, where there are more than 3.7 million injecting drug users, almost a quarter of the worldwide tally,” the Philippine Star reports (Le Roux, 6/10). “Thirty-three percent of HIV diagnoses in Eastern Europe between 2006-2010 were linked to injecting drug use, according to a report by the World Bank, [WHO] and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,” Agence France-Presse notes. The news agency includes quotes from former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, now a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy; Martin Donoghoe, program manager for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and viral hepatitis at WHO/Europe; Lithuanian singer Jurgis Didziulis; and British singer and AIDS activist Elton John, whose Elton John AIDS Foundation is supporting the conference (6/9).

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