The United Nations has recommended encouragement of the use of opioid substitutes as means to to curb the spread of HIV in Middle East and North Africa through people who inject drugs.
A conference held in Morocco from 11 to 13 November, jointly organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Middle East North Africa Harm Reduction Association (MENAHRA), called in statement on Tuesday, among other measures, for “ensuring sustainable financing for opioid substitution therapy (OST).”
“OST maintenance therapy is the most effective treatment option to prevent HIV transmission for people who are opioid dependent. It reduces the frequency of injection and of injecting with used needles. It decreases the high cost of opioid dependence to individuals, their families and society at large by reducing associated deaths, HIV risk behaviors and criminal activity,” said Masood Karimipour, UNODC Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa in his opening speech.
“HIV in the region is still on the rise, driven by sharing injection equipment among people who inject drugs. Scaling up and sustaining national responses related to provision of comprehensive harm reduction services to People Who Inject Drugs (PWIDs) in the region is therefore critical,” read the statement issued by the conference.
The conference called for “establishing platforms for multi stakeholders’ involvement and partnership in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluation of OST.”