In October 2011, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund) approached the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) concerning different types of needle- syringes and their possible influence on HIV transmission among people who inject drugs (PWID). While emerging evidence suggests that a switch to low dead-space (LDS) syringes could have a major impact on HIV, both the Global Fund and EHRN recognized that such an intervention can only succeed if it is fully informed by — and with the full backing of — local drug users, taking into account their needs, preferences and the local drug markets, and where reliable supplies of new products can be ensured at similar costs to existing syringes.
According to the UN Reference Group on HIV and Injecting Drug Use, there are an estimated 3.7 million PWID in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with Eastern Europe having the highest regional prevalence of injecting drug use worldwide. About one quarter of these PWID are thought to be living with HIV.1 In view of the above, the Secretariats of the Global Fund and EHRN agreed to conduct a rapid situation assessment on the types of needles and syringes that are procured and supplied through needle and syringe programmes (NSP) and pharmacies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The overall objective was to examine opportunities for introducing LDS syringes, and informing future policy and advocacy efforts. The rapid situation assessment was conducted by EHRN in November and December 2011, and the results are summarized in this report.
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