Community Action on Harm Reduction project was present in XIX AIDS conference in Washington during the project dedicated session by Alliance and IDPC outlining recent developments in policy and research and selected country developments; in session of Asia and the Pacific presenting community perspective of the HIV epidemic development in the region; in several posters on project approach, India and Kenya baseline study results; through informing YouthRISE campaign by spreading its ‘Support, don’t punish’ message.
The sense of the project in global conference context is that it occurs in the middle of most challenging HIV epidemic – that among people who use drugs – and while there have been substantial developments in generalized epidemics primarily in African countries, there remains a huge challenge to effectively control IDU driven epidemics.
Headliner conference message on ARV treatment as prevention is recommended by WHO to be explored in most-at-risk populations including PWID. The conference had limited coverage of practical models how this approach can be effectively applied to people who use drugs.
The conference reiterated the need of increase of government commitment to harm reduction aiming at adequate coverage by essential interventions: syringes at the level of 200 items per client per year, overdose prevention, TB and particularly HCV related services. Global developments in HCV programming were reinforced by MdM and MSF initiatives on enhanced diagnostics and treatment.
Kenya was definitely high on the agenda as a country with substantial programming need and gap for drug user related services. Risky injecting practices, unavailability of harm reduction programmes, poor ART access of drug using population require strong programmatic effort and will be high on the agenda of CAHR project in the coming years.
With the sense of drug using epidemics being in the margins of global developments in HIV/AIDS epidemics, next conference should definitely become an arena for developments in this sphere as well. Substantial effort should be put to increase the levels of combination prevention interventions, both programmatic and policy efforts.