Statement by the INCB President on the occasion of World AIDS Day, 1 December 2022

VIENNA, 1 December - World AIDS Day 2022, "Equalize" , focusses on the inequalities that perpetuate the AIDS pandemic. On this occasion, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) highlights the need to ensure equitable access to evidence-based health services in a number of areas as an element of the right to health and Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and wellbeing.

As unsafe drug injection practices are among the drivers of new HIV/AIDS infections, it is essential to prevent transmission of the virus among people who inject drugs. To this end, INCB acknowledges the wide endorsement, including by the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, of a comprehensive set of measures aimed at reducing the adverse consequences of drug use, including the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne viral infections among people who inject drugs. These measures are not in contravention of the international drug control conventions, as long as they do not encourage non-medical use of drugs or illicit drug-related activity, such as trafficking.

Opioid agonist therapy is recognized as having a key role in preventing HIV infection. INCB is supporting Governments in ensuring adequate access to controlled medicines, including buprenorphine and methadone, which are used in opioid agonist therapy. It is critical that these programmes can continue, even during humanitarian emergencies. INCB reminds Governments of the possibility of applying simplified control procedures for the export, transportation and provision of medicinal products containing controlled substances during acute emergencies. To support national authorities in regard, INCB has published lessons from countries and humanitarian aid organizations in facilitating the timely supply of controlled substances during emergency situations.

INCB calls on Governments, with the support of bilateral partners and international organizations as appropriate, to ensure the provision of evidence-based services for the prevention of non-medical drug use, particularly among young people, and to ensure unimpeded access to evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation programmes for people with drug use disorders. Treatment and rehabilitation services should be free of stigma and discrimination and should be equally available to men and women. Aimed at reducing non-medical use of drugs, the provision of these services, which is an obligation under the drug control conventions, can also reduce the use of drugs by injection, thus contributing to reducing rates of HIV infection.

Action must be taken to address the persistent inequities in the availability of health services, including access to controlled medicines, prevention and treatment. Only then can we realize the overarching goal of the drug control conventions to safeguard the health and welfare of humankind; only then is there a chance of ending AIDS.


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