Over the course of the last decades, peer work has been increasingly recognised as the most efficient model of intervention in any HIV or HCV cascade and is deeply embedded in the Harm Reduction approach. Despite this recognition and numerous global recommendations to expand peer work, adequate funding for peer work as well as ensuring the security, capacity building and meaningful participation of peer workers in programming and strategy-making spaces is lagging behind. Often, contexts do not have an administrative framework to recognise peer work in a job-structure, neither is peer work recognised as being part of the national health systems. Many peer workers find themselves in precarious and unfavourable employment situations and receive an extremely low daily wage, despite the fact that they are often the low threshold point of engagement for harm reduction services and exposed to the most risk.
It is recognised that peer workers’ expertise and engagement within the community is invaluable in delivering outreach and ensuring access to services. Peer workers are people with lived experiences who also have privileged access to marginalised communities and active drug scenes. As such, these models need to be scaled up in order to meet current health targets. Furthermore, the engagement of the community must be appropriately recognized and supported. Meaningful participation should be factored into all aspects of planning, design and implementation of harm reduction interventions. Peer workers are also essential in this process.
What can we do to strengthen and sustain interventions with peer workers for people who use drugs and sex workers?
This video summarises discussions from a multi-stakeholder consultation process organised by the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), CoAct, the European Network of People who Use Drugs (EuroPUD), the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) and Médecins du Monde.