Fourth issue of Drugs - Policies and practicies

ARAS van parked on pre-determined location in Bucharest. This association with funds from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provided the supply of needles, syringes and condoms for people who use drugs. Within few minutes, people who use drugs gather around the bus. There are different types of people and stories. Among them there are two fifteen year old children, pregnant woman, forty-year-old man who used to live and grow up in orphanage institution at the time of Ceausescu regime and he had seen his mother only once in his life. The same person is expelled from the institution for children without parents or parental care due to the use of glue and for 25 years he is living on the street. They ask for condoms, but after the discontinued funds from the Global Fund in 2010, ARAS could no longer provide condoms.

People say they do not pay any more attention to whether you borrow needles to each other, or not because there is not enough needles. Some of them collect the used needles and sell them to obtain a sterile one, but they are not sure whether is really sterile. Some of the needles are used several times, although perhaps somebody else was previously using. A van with a doctor and a social worker 5-6 days a week is running through Bucharest and supply sterile needles for 5000-15000 users. Not enough.

The Summer School "Prevention of HIV and drug use among citizens in border areas" has finished

​From 5th till 9th of October was held a five-day summer school in Ohrid, within the project "Prevention of HIV and drug use among citizens in border areas." The participants were 30 students/graduates from law school, medical school, social work and social policy, psychology and police academy and security experts and young university graduates from these colleges. Fifteen participants were from Macedonia, also fifteen from Kosovo.

Event was opened by Zvonko Milenkovic - National Coordinator for HIV/AIDS in the country and a professor of infectious diseases. Through the interactive work, the aim of the school was to create a climate of support by professionals working in their fields to communities of interest (people who inject drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), prisoners, and people living with HIV/AIDS), and to gain knowledge about the principles of HIV prevention.

WHO: Treat all people living with HIV, offer antiretrovirals as additional prevention choice for people at ‘substantial’ risk

​Anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible, the World Health Organization announced Wednesday. With its "treat-all" recommendation, WHO removes all limitations on eligibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people living with HIV; all populations and age groups are now eligible for treatment.

The expanded use of antiretroviral treatment is supported by recent findings from clinical trials confirming that early use of ART keeps people living with HIV alive, healthier and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to partners.

WHO now also recommends that anyone at "substantial" risk of becoming infected should be offered preventive antiretroviral treatment. This new recommendation builds on 2014 WHO guidance to offer a combination of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV acquisition (termed pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for men who have sex with men. Following further evidence of the effectiveness and acceptability of PrEP, WHO has now broadened this recommendation to support the offer of PrEP to other population groups at significant HIV risk. PrEP should be seen as an additional prevention choice based on a comprehensive package of services, including HIV testing, counselling and support and access to condoms and safe injection equipment.

Call for Articles for the 6th issue of the „Drugs – Policies and Practices" magazine





HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje’s Center for Education, Documentation and Research and Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” announce call for articles for the 6­th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices.

Drugs – Policies and Practices promotes topics about drugs, drug use, drug treatment, and other related topics, such as: sex work, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Tuberculosis, rights of the marginalized groups/communities, gender perspectives, free access to public information, researches, policies, advocacy, civil society, activism, social work, social policy, health, through the drugs perspectives.

Drugs – Policies and Practices target audience are people who use drugs, people on drug addiction treatment, experts for drug use and drug treatment issues and all for people with interest for these topics. It is published both in Macedonian (printed and online) and in English (online).

HOPS and City of Skopje signed memorandum of cooperation

Association "HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje" and City of Skopje signed a Мemorandum of cooperation for successful implementation of the project "Prevention of HIV and drug use among citizens in the border areas". The Memorandum establishes joint participation in the drafting of the local Strategy for prevention of HIV in communities most at risk for the City of Skopje.

The purpose of the Мemorandum is to create and promote partnerships between civil society and public sector and to establish sustainable mechanisms for the prevention of HIV. In this memorandum, the association "HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje" and the City of Skopje are obliged to implement a certain activities for drafting, decision, adoption and support for implementation of the action plan.

The process of developing local strategies of HIV prevention has started

Association ​"HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje" within the project "Prevention of HIV and drug use among citizens in border areas“ held  training, to empower participants with advanced knowledge in strategic and action planning, where it began the creation of four local strategies for HIV prevention for the City of Skopje, Kumanovo, Gostivar and Tetovo to be adopted by the councils of local governments. The training was attended by representatives from the councils of local governments, public institutions (centers for public health, infectious clinics, inter-municipal centers for social work, representatives from local Departments of Interior (SVR), NGOs working with marginalized communities). 

Naloxone distribution

Naloxone is to be made more readily available next month. Public Health England’s Steve Taylor looks at how local services and commissioners can respond to this change in the law

Legislation to allow naloxone to be more widely available for those who need it is on track to be enacted next month. This follows the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD)’s recommendation in 2013 and a public consultation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in 2014 that saw wide support for the proposals.

The evidence shows that take-home naloxone given to service users, and training family members or peers in how to administer naloxone, can be effective in reversing heroin overdoses. Because it is only available as an injectable product, naloxone will remain a prescription-only medicine but the legislation will permit people working in commissioned, lawful drug treatment services to supply naloxone without a prescription to anyone needing it to prevent a heroin overdose.

Health Rights Online Film Festival

What's this?

This is the inaugural Health Rights Online Film Festival, brought to you by The Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER). The festival's purpose is to collect and promote advocacy videos from around the world that focus on injustices at the intersection of public health and human rights.

On this site you can view all 76 films submitted, and vote for your favorites. Based on those votes, winners will be named on October 16th, 2015, at the European Public Health Association (EUPHA) Conference in Milan, Italy. The awards ceremony will also be livestreamed so you can watch from home.


Policy of Mandatory HIV Testing of Sex Workers Repealed in Greece

According to a report at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, on the 2nd of April, repealed the health regulation used to justify roundups and forced HIV testing of people alleged to be sex workers.

In April 2012, in response to a massive rise in HIV rates following health sector budget cuts due to the Greek economic crisis, police in Athens arrested drug users and suspected sex workers and forced them to undergo HIV testing. According to HRW, those found to be HIV positive were charged with causing intentional grievous bodily harm (a felony) or attempted bodily harm (a misdemeanor), for allegedly having unprotected sex with clients while knowing they were HIV positive. At least 12 sex workers had their names and private information published first on the police force’s website, then in newspapers, TV and by the Greek Center for Disease Control who disclosed their HIV-positive status.

Then Health Minister, Andreas Loverdos introduced legal provision 39A in April 2012, which made it mandatory to conduct forced HIV testing on suspected sex workers, undocumented migrants, and drug users. Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS had raised concerns about the regulation, which was reinstated the following year.

The World Bank Middle Income Classification of countries is Damaging People

On 4 September at the World Bank Office in Buenos Aires, held a meeting with delegations of civil society organizations and representatives of vulnerable communities. Representatives submitted a letter to the World Bank with a request to change the criteria for classification of countries regarding their income. Global Fund terminates funding of prevention programs, treatment, care and support for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria to middle-income countries, although the need to support these programs is great. Christian Jankulovski, CEO of "HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje" led the delegation.