We asked him at a press conference to clarify his position on harm reduction. Later we interviewed a few professionals, such as Damon Barret from HRI, Allan Clear from HRC and Alison Crocket from UNAIDS who commented on what he said.
Is harm reduction controversial? No, it is not. The UN General Assembly has clearly endorsed the term in its Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, in which governments committed themselves to ensure access to a „wide range of prevention programs”, „including ... harm-reduction efforts related to drug use”. The UN agency on HIV/AIDS defines what harm reduction is: “Harm reduction measures such as access to sterile injection equipment; drug dependence treatment such as methadone and buprenorphine; community-based outreach; and providing HIV prevention information are among the most effective and cost-effective measures to prevent, the epidemic among injecting drug users.” (Read more about UN statements on harm reduction here!)
Is harm reduction controversial? Yes, in a parallel universe it is. The Political Declaration adopted by the High Level Meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2009 did not even mention this term. Several governments, including the US, claim this term is ambiguous and can be interpreted as legalization - so they refuse to use any reference to it. The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime says there is no CND resolution on harm reduction so his agency is not mandated to promote harm reduction.
Our is mission is clear: to connect the two realities.
You can make a difference now - if you make a donation to the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, a Russian NGO fighting for harm reduction in Russia. Their government does not support harm reduction at all, they even banned their website for providing information on harm reduction. They need your help to buy a new needle exchange van to help vulnerable young people on the street.
Posted by Peter Sarosi
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