Home » Community Blog » Ending Inequalities for People who Use Drugs: How the Global HIV Response can Transform Drug Policy (and vice versa)

Ending Inequalities for People who Use Drugs: How the Global HIV Response can Transform Drug Policy (and vice versa)

14 March, 2022; 12:15 CEST

This side event for the 65th Commission on Narcotic Drugs was originally presented on 14 March, 2022. Organised by INPUD, it was co-sponsored by Médecins du Monde, UNAIDS, UNODC HIV/AIDS Section, the Netherlands and Australia. We thank the Robert Carr Fund and Love Alliance for their financial support.

We would also like to thank the incredibly brave peers from the Ukrainian Network of Women who Use Drugs for delivering an impactful intervention to open up our event.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 275 million people who use drugs, 15.6 million of whom inject drugs. Globally, people who inject drugs make up close to 10% of new HIV infections and are 35 times more likely to be living with HIV compared with the general population. People who use drugs face almost universal criminalisation and punishment, stigma and discrimination and are rendered invisible or maligned within policies and the public imagination. It is high time that new approaches were taken to address the world drug policy problem. Recent developments in the global health landscape provide direction and pathways for action that emphasise the central role of directly impacted communities themselves in the response.

In 2021, thanks to significant advocacy work by people who use drugs and other key population networks, both the Global AIDS Strategy 2022-2026 and the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS committed Member States to fulfill bold new targets on ‘social enablers’ which have significant implications concerning drug policy. These ’10-10-10′ targets call for the repeal of punitive laws and policies that target people who use drugs along with implementation of supporting interventions which combat stigma, discrimination and gender equality. Additionally, the ’80-60-30’ targets aim to bolster funding and support for community-led responses at national and global levels which are proven to have the greatest impact at preventing and treating HIV. Both the ’10-10-10′ targets and ’80-60-30′ targets were also included in the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, with people who use drugs once again significantly involved in advocacy calling for their inclusion.

Our side event will review this advocacy work and the targets themselves to examine why they are important for policymakers, drug control agencies and other civil society organizations and how they can be galvanized and utilized to inform better approaches to drug policies, research, and programmes. Moreover, we will discuss how all stakeholders (Member States, UN agencies and civil society actors) can work alongside people who use drugs to integrate these targets into policies and programmes and provide examples of initiatives which support this goal, such as the Global Partnership to Eliminate All Forms of HIV-related Stigma and Discrimination.

Suki Beavers – Director, Gender Equality, Human Rights and Community Engagement, UNAIDS

Aditia Taslim – Advocacy Officer, INPUD

Fariba Soltani – Chief, UNODC HIV/AIDS Section

Pascalle Grotenhuis – Director of Social Development & Ambassador for Women’s Rights & Gender Equity, The Netherlands

Aniedi Akpan – Executive Director, DAPHO

Opening remarks by Judy Chang – Executive Director, INPUD

Chaired by Jake Agliata – Policy and Communications Officer, INPUD

A short Q&A session will conclude the side event.

Technical Brief: 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

Briefing Note: Global AIDS Strategy 2021 – 2026