On July 9-10, 2012 more than 50 drug users’ community representatives from 10 Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) countries (Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan) gathered in a small city of Irpin located in Kiev Oblast to the AIDS Forum “Ensuring That Our Voice Is Heard” – the approved pre-conference of the XIX International AIDS Conference (IAC), which took place in Washington, DC USA on July 22-27, 2012. Many of them had, for the first time, an opportunity to meet high level decision-makers who make an impact on their health and lives - former executive director of the Global Fund Mr. Michele Kazatchkine, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Mr. Jean-Elie Malkin, UNAIDS Senior Advisor Ms. Alison Crockett, director of International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD) Mr. Eliot Ross Albert – and to discuss with them issues of importance to people who use drugs in EECA. In total the Forum attracted around 100 participants.
The discussions were held in plenary sessions and parallel sessions on 3 key topics: Quality of opioid substitution treatment in EECA; Rights and health of women who use drugs in EECA; and Changes in the Global Fund – perspective for EECA countries. List of prioritized problems faced by Forum participants and their friends in communities where developed under each of the topics and based on them messages to international and national decision makers (international organizations, donors, governments) formulated. So that the voice of drug users on decisions that make an impact on their lives would be heard and considered in addressing their needs.
The messages were afterwards recorded in cooperation with Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HLCU); and were subsequently screened at the XIX IAC in Washington.
The strategic planning of recently established Eurasian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ENPUD) was held, and the agreement on mission statement was reached during the session: “We are community of people who use drugs and our allies who united for a purpose to decriminalize drug use and to achieve personal and social well-being”. Mission based on the belief that drug policy can be changed and drug using won’t be the reason for detention, refusal to provide medical help, social exclusion or using violence in any country.
For the first time the Forum was organized before IAC. Since the IAC in Mexico in 2008 AIDS hubs were organized to help people who were not attending IAC to listen to what is discussed at the conference, to learn more about the most recent scientific and political developments. For the first time the AIDS Forum was designed so that drug users could be listened and heard rather than listening.
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