UNODC launches new webpage to expand access to essential HIV health and social services

The UNODC Regional Programme Office for Eastern Europe (Kyiv, Ukraine), in cooperation with the Charitable Fund “Humanitarian Action” (Saint Petersburg, Russia), launches a new website on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) (https://nps-info.org/). The website serves as an online platform for key populations including people who use new psychoactive substances (NPS)/stimulants and service providers working with the risk groups.

The website is full of useful content on the prevention of HIV infection and other diseases, on various psychoactive substances, including synthetic psychostimulants as well as examples of responses to challenges arose by the spread of NPS. The audience of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) countries is in the main focus, and much information is dedicated to online work, including the practical steps of online harm reduction interventions and web outreach.

“Our studies conducted in the countries of the EECA region, show a change not only in the drug scenes, but also in the behavior of people who use drugs”, – says Zhannat Kosmukhamedova, head of the UNODC Program Office for Eastern Europe. “In addition to the predominance of NPS, mainly synthetic cannabinoids and psychostimulants, we see profound changes in the structure of the sale-purchase of these substances. More and more people who use drugs are using instant messengers and Darknet platforms as a new source of buy-and-sell activities. Thus, the launch of a single resource that would collect the best practices of online harm reduction interventions and provide verified, up-to-date information on NPS seems timely and necessary in this situation.”

The web resource is divided into five sections: “Substances”, “Prevention”, “Resources”, “Practice” and “Get Help”. The Resources section contains videos on HIV prevention among users of stimulants/NPS. This section also includes thematic guidelines and technical guides publications by UNODC, WHO and UNAIDS. As well, there are additional links to other resources on HIV prevention and harm reduction among users of stimulants by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA), Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) and others. The “Get Help” section is up to date with contact information of organizations in the EECA region that provide harm reduction and HIV prevention services. Much more information is covered in the three other sections which can be accessed on the webpage.

“For our Fund, participation in this project has become a significant leap forward in our development: not every day there is an opportunity to cooperate with such a major international organization as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, – says Aleksey Lakhov, Development Director of Humanitarian Action. – We are also seeing a significant change in the drug scene in Russia towards the prevalence of NPS and we understand how important it is for us and our colleagues to have access to quality, verified information on these substances and how to help people who use them.”

In the near future, UNODC Regional Programme Office for Eastern Europe plans to release a series of animated videos on key HIV prevention interventions for people who use stimulants, as well as a web outreach guide.

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