In Ukraine, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and other local organisations are calling for a repeal of Resolution N634, a revised drug-possession law that dramatically reduces the minimum amount of drugs subject to criminal penalties. The new regulations, enacted October 29, severely imperil the country’s needle-exchange programs and efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS.

Drug users arrested with as little as 0.005 grams of acetylated opium—Ukraine’s most widely used opiate, known locally as “shirka”— now face prosecution and up to three years in prison. This new threshold is 20 times lower than under the previous law, and by comparison, 100 times less than prosecutable limits in Russia. It is also equivalent to residue left in a used syringe, forcing outreach workers as well as drug users to reassess before engaging in primary and secondary syringe exchange. Click here for more information.

In anticipation of World AIDS Day, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the International Renaissance Foundation and their partners are drawing attention to the harmful, sweeping effects of this punitive law and asking that Ukraine’s health officials and legislators rescind it immediately.

For further information on any of these programs, please contact Kathleen Kingsbury at Open Society Foundations at kkingsbury@sorosny.org.