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Harm Reduction Journal

, 12:32

Harm Reduction in Asia and the Pacific


BackgroundThere is an estimate of three to five million people who inject drugs living in Asia. Unsafe injecting drug use is a major driver of both the HIV and hepatitis C HCV epidemic in this region, and an increase in incidence among people who inject drugs continues. Although harm reduction is becoming increasingly accepted, a largely punitive policy remains firmly in place, undermining access to life-saving programmes. The aim of this study is to present an overview of key findings on harm reduction in Asia based on data collected for the Global State of Harm Reduction 2014.

MethodsA review of international scientific and grey literature was undertaken between May and September 2014, including reports from multilateral agencies and international non-governmental organisations. A qualitative survey comprising open-ended questions was also administered to civil society, harm reduction networks, and organisations of people who use drugs to obtain national and regional information on key developments in harm reduction. Expert consultation from academics and key thinkers on HIV, drug use, and harm reduction was used to verify findings.

ResultsIn 2014, 17 countries in Asia provide needle and syringe programmes NSP provision and 15 opioid substitution therapy OST. It is estimated that between 60 and 90 % of people who use drugs in Asia have HCV; however, treatment still remains out of reach due to cost barriers. TB testing and treatment services are yet to be established for key populations, yet nearly 15 % of the global burden of new cases of HIV-TB co-infection are attributed to southeast Asia. Eighteen percent of the total number of people living with HIV eligible for antiretroviral treatment ART accessed treatment. Only Malaysia and Indonesia provide OST in prison, with no NSP provision in prisons in the region.

ConclusionTo reduce HIV and viral hepatitis risk among people who inject drugs, there is a necessity to significantly increase harm reduction service provision in Asia. Although there has been progress, work still needs to be done to ensure an appropriate and enabling environment. At present, people who inject drugs are extremely difficult to reach; structural and legal barriers to services must be reduced, integrated holistic services introduced, and further research undertaken.

KeywordsHarm reduction Review Asia People who inject drugs PWID Needle and syringe programmes NSP Opioid substitution treatment OST Antiretroviral treatment ART Tuberculosis TB Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12954-015-0066-x contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Katie Alexandra Stone


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