Around the world, people who use drugs continue to be left behind in the response to HIV. Drug policies that focus on criminalization coupled with violence and stigma towards this population means that access to lifesaving health and harm reduction services remains out of reach for many. It is estimated that people who use drugs are 28 times more likely to be living with HIV than those in the general population and between 2011 and 2015, new HIV infections among this group rose by a staggering 33%.
Last month, the Elton John AIDS Foundation joined individuals, communities and NGOs around the world in calling for more supportive policy environments for harm reduction, better access to HIV services and an end to the stigmatization and discrimination of people who use drugs.
Since its creation in 2013, the Support. Don’t Punish campaign has provided open-access resources, materials and start-up funding to local partners, as well as a broad umbrella and global branding under which local advocacy issues can be pushed forward. The campaign now has a proven track record in terms of mobilizing civil society and people who use drugs, opening spaces for dialogue with policy makers, and influencing the public narrative around drugs.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation is committed to supporting services for people who use drugs and since 2013, has invested over £4m in lifesaving HIV and harm reduction services for this marginalized population. This year, there were events in over 200 cities in 70 countries worldwide and funding from the Foundation supported actions in countries such as Myanmar, India, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Indonesia.