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Response to the Social and Livelihood Needs for HIV/AIDS Prevention in East Africa

By United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

NAIROBI, Kenya, March 26, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Response to the Social and Livelihood Needs for HIV/AIDS Prevention in East Africa

Serena Beach Hotel, Mombasa (Kenya)

26th – 29th March 2012

UNODC in close cooperation with civil society organisations from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda will organize a Joint Stakeholders Meeting in Mombasa, Kenya from March 26th to March 30th. The purpose of the meeting is to exchange experiences and lessons learned on socio economic assistance and develop strong partnerships for a shared policy and practice commitment.

The Stakeholders meeting is taking place within the framework of the project “Response to the Social and Livelihood Needs for HIV/AIDS Prevention in East Africa (XAFK45)”. This project is funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and aims at benefitting individuals that are in dire need of socio-economic assistance, and affected by or vulnerable to, drug dependence as well as related HIV infection. Related interventions include individuals affected by imprisonment and released from prison.

Project activities are taking place in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Major components are the provision of daily meals, education on health issues and medical assistance, provision of hygiene services and income generating skills training. The project objective is to address interventions in the fields of prevention and treatment of drug dependence and related HIV infection with basic socio-economic assistance interventions.

The project is implemented by UNODC in close collaboration with local service-providers, such as civil society organizations active in the fields of community support, day clinics and hospitals. The main underlying assumption is that when individuals benefit from basic socio-economic services, the additional benefit of decreasing other health and social risks, such as violence, life on the street, health risks, sex work, criminalisation and incarceration is added to the aspect of initial protection. Basic socio-economic services enable affected individuals to benefit more effectively from prevention and treatment, and as a consequence contribute to lower rates of relapse, and decreases the risk of contracting and spreading blood-borne diseases. Ideally, basic socio-economic assistance enables the individual to actually consider taking part in prevention and treatment activities. Not having to worry about food any more, not suffering any more from pain, the individual might develop trust towards service-providers, feel dignified and realize that treatment might be possible.

UNODC considers drug dependence a global public health issue that has a serious impact on development and security and that can be prevented and treated. In this connection, UNODC strongly promotes recovery-oriented provision of prevention and treatment services for individuals affected by drug dependence and related HIV infection. UNODC supports Member States in addressing drug use and drug addiction through a health-centered and human-rights based approach.

Globally, around 16 million people are affected by injecting drug use, and of that total, some three million live with HIV. Injecting drug use is a major cause of HIV transmission, accounting for up to ten per cent of all HIV cases worldwide. In some countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, injecting drug use is an emerging problem and represents an important source of HIV transmission. Other forms of drug use are not direct sources of HIV infection, but make individuals more vulnerable to risk behaviour that enhances their susceptibility to HIV infection. In addition, severe socio-economic living-conditions aggravate vulnerability of being exposed to contaminated injecting equipment.

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