In 2016, the UN General Assembly will hold a Special Session (or ‘UNGASS’) on the issue of illicit drugs. People who inject drugs are a key population for HIV, with around 10% of global HIV infections linked to risky injecting practices. Much like the 2001 UNGASS on HIV/AIDS and the 2011 High-Level Meeting on AIDS, the UNGASS on drugs is crucial for the adoption of more effective and more humane policies.

Drug policy is an important issue for those working on the HIV response – we cannot hope to end AIDS until we end the global war on drug users. In order to do this, the voice of civil society around the world must be strong and united.

The preparations for the 2016 UNGASS have already begun at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, Austria – with a high-level review of international drug policies scheduled for March 2014 (countries are currently negotiating a ‘Joint Ministerial Statement’ on the progress made so far and the remaining challenges).

We urge NGOs working on HIV/AIDS in Africa to engage in this process – which is every bit as crucial to their work as the UNGASS on HIV.

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