Today, on the occasion of the joint meeting of the EU Civil Society Forum on HIV, Hepatitis and TB and the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs, the European AIDS Treatment Group publishes its position on different aspects of the drug policy debate and approaches to delivering health-based policies. With this position paper, we aim to clearly stand by and extend further our work with people using drugs and the advocacy for a syndemic approach in improving health outcomes and maximizing its contribution to drug policy discussions in Europe and beyond.
In particular, EATG calls for the following principles to be adhered by all stakeholders -including itself- to improve the prevention, treatment and care of HIV and other blood-borne infections.
- People who use drugs should be meaningfully involved in programme planning, implementation and evaluation processes. We adhere to this principle because we know that programs are more responsive to the needs of people who use drugs, more effective and more sustainable when they emerge from processes in which the voices of people most affected are heard.
- Ending the incarceration for victimless and nonviolent offenses is key, including drug use and drug possession for personal use, as well as repealing national laws criminalizing drug use. We consider that the most principled and effective manner to reduce the risks associated with problematic drug use is to prevent people from being forcibly detained in the first place.
- Advocating for the harm reduction approach as the most effective, cost-effective and humane response to the negative health consequences of problematic drug use. This entails implementing evidence-based interventions that aim to ensure access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs, including but not limited to the nine interventions set out in the “comprehensive package”.
- Taking into consideration gender related aspects in the planning and provision of harm reduction programmes. We consider this to be critical to ensure equitable access to services and to address the significant overlap between gender, drug use, and non-conforming gender identities
- Funding and swift scale-up of equitable, sustainable evidence-based services for people who inject drugs. This entails measures to ensure an ordered transition from donor support to domestic funding to avoid interruptions of services in or closure of harm reduction services. In all countries, funding must be ensured via national budgets. Social contracting and other mechanisms that allow community-based organizations and other non-state actors to provide services must be put into place.
You can read the position paper here.