Call for articles for the 3rd issue of Drugs – Policies and Practices

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 3rd 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.
The main topic for the 3rd issue of the magazine is “Harm Reduction Policies”. Despite the main topic, we welcome all other articles related to afore mentioned topics.
Dead line for this call is October 10, 2014. 

The World Health Organization called for decriminalization of personal drug use

In the report by the World Health Organization announced in July this year with guidelines for prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS among key populations, publicly called for the decriminalization of personal drug use. 
Based on the data from this report, in 49 countries, the risk of infection with HIV is on average, 22 times higher among people who inject drugs than the general population. It is estimated that 40% of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe occur among people who inject drugs and their sexual partners. 
In many of these countries harsh penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use, and mandatory detention as a form of "treatment" of people who use drugs, are barriers to implementation of effective and efficient interventions for HIV/AIDS among people who use drugs. Many of them are afraid to seek health services because they are afraid of the legal consequences and remain outside the scope of existing services for HIV/AIDS and the health system. 
WHO therefore recommends that:
• Countries should work toward developing policies and laws that decriminalize injection and other use of drugs and, thereby, reduce incarceration. 

The First National Conference on Drug Policy

Today, 30th September, the First National Conference on Drug Policies organized by HOPS - Healthy Options Project will be held in Skopje. 
Besides domestic experts, parliamentarians, representatives of political parties, as speakers of the conference are: Jindrih Voboril, the National Anti-Drug Coordinator of the Czech Republic, Jaka Bitenc of the Cannabis Social Club Slovenia and Ivan Varentcov from the Andrey Rylkov Foundation, Russia. 
With this conference we want to create a space for reflection, debate and analysis of the existing drug policy in our country and the impact that it has on the health system, social policy, the economy, security, but primarily on the lives of our citizens. Because only that policy which is constantly reviewed and supplemented in accordance with the existing good practices can be successful.

We invite you to a debate and promotion of the new issue of "Drugs - Policies and Practices"

On 30th September (Tuesday) at 19:30 pm at the Cultural Autonomous Social Centre, HOPS and Coalition SHRMC will organize a debate that will open the issue of adequate legal regulation of drug use. 
The speakers of the debate are: Mariglen Demiri (Solidarity), Vlatko Dekov (HOPS), Philip Dostovski (green alternative) and Jaka Bitenc (Slovenian social club for cannabis). Moderator of the debate: Irena Cvetkovic (Coalition SZPMZ). 
At the same time, the new edition of "Drugs - Policies and Practices", whose main theme is "Drugs and the law", will be launched, this time available in electronic, online version.
In addition we are presenting the first half of the introductory text of Vlatko Dekov, indicating that penal measures alone, regardless of their strictness, fail to achieve their aim of reducing drug use. Moreover, in many cases, laws that criminalize drug use lead to negative consequences, such as stigmatization of people who use drugs, violation of human rights, difficult access to treatment and re-socialization etc.

The First European Conference on Hepatitis C and Drug Use

The considerable and increasing burden of HCV across Europe is rarely reflected in awareness or attention to the issue. However, this is about to change. Highly effective new treatments are being introduced and there is a growing recognition that truly inclusive testing and treatment policies need to be established now.

Universal access for treatment of Hepatitis C, including the access of active drug users who inject drugs

According to behavioural research carried so far among drug users, around 75% of the tested active drug users who inject drugs are HCV positive in Republic of Macedonia. Despite knowing this fact, active drug users do not have access to treatment of Hepatitis C, since there is a precondition that they have to fulfill - they have to have abstained from drugs for at least 12 months and/or to be enrolled at some of the drug dependence treatment programs. As a main reason for the existence of this precondition, health professionals point out the risk of possible reinfection, which would also mean wasted resources and unnecessary spendings.
This question caused heated discussion and opposed positions among participants on the second day of the conference ““Availability of Hepatitis C treatment to drug users in the Republic of Macedonia – good practices and challenges”. For more information, watch the related video.

Call for Ending Criminalization of Drug Use and Drug Possession

On September 9th, 2014 in New York City the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a new, groundbreaking report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work.
Members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy use this report to call for ending policies for misdemeanor and criminal prosecution of people who use drugs i.e. people who possess drugs for personal use, and they reiterate their demands for decriminalization, alternatives to incarceration, and greater emphasis on public health approaches.

Hepatitis - Think Again!

On 28 August, millions of people around the world took part in this year's campaign for the World Hepatitis Day which was held under the motto "Hepatitis: Think Again", in order to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and urge actions of governments and institutions responsible for improving access to treatment and prevention programs for Hepatitis C. 

Hepatits C is a serious public health issue!

Although the burden of diseases caused by hepatitis viruses grows, the problem remains ignored in broader terms or unknown to most of the policy makers, health professionals and the wider public.
HCV continues to affects hundreds of people in the world and is considered a serious public health problem! According to the World Health Organization, about 150 million worldwide live with chronic infection of hepatitis C virus, and each year worldwide more than 350 000 people die from the diseases caused by this virus. 
Most affected by the virus are people who inject drugs. Therefore, providing treatment for them should be a priority, both for governments and health professionals.