XVIII International AIDS Conference


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Supporting harm reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)

P. Cymerman1, M. Day2, G. Hirnschall3, R. Mazin3

1Intercambios Asociacion Civil, Advocacy, Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2Caribbean Drug Abuse Research Institute, Castries, Saint Lucia, 3Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), HIV Unit, Washington, United States

Issues: Despite the concept of harm reduction is known to effectively control HIV transmission among drug users, few countries in LAC explicitly support it. Multilateral agencies have provided limited and intermittent support to harm reduction programs in the region. Therefore, actions for expanding access to risk and harm reduction programs and services by drug users and their sexual partners need to be undertaken urgently.
Description: In october 2009, PAHO HIV Unit organized an expert consultation on drug users as a priority population for HIV prevention and control activities, with the scope of outlining concrete strategies and approaches to establish, expand, and strengthen risk and harm reduction programs and services in LAC.
As a result, three main activities and products were developed in the following months:
1. Collection and analysis of information on the state of HIV and drug use in LAC including the identification of gaps in information and responses.
2. Adaptation, expansion and translation into Spanish of the WHO-UNODC-UNAIDS “Technical guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users” to ensure it serves to guide actions in LAC situation, including recommendations for non-injecting drug users.
3. Proposal for the mobilization of financial resources with bilateral organizations and foundations to support the implementation of prevention and harm reduction activities during 2010-2011 in some LAC countries.
L.L.: Overlap of non-injecting drug use and HIV needs to be addressed in LAC based on a public health and human rights approach. Joint efforts of governments, NGOs and donors with PAHO regional leadership can contribute to harm reduction agenda.
A consensus process is being conducted with the participation of key regional actors in order to face the challenges represented by ideological, political, legal, and institutional factors that may hamper the development and maintenance of harm reduction services.

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