Prevention of drug-related infectious diseases

Although the national policies of Member States vary, reflecting their individual drug situation and political context, there is also increasing evidence of a consensus emerging at the European level on the key elements necessary for an effective response to combating HIV and other infectious diseases among IDUs (137). Appropriate responses include enhanced access to drug treatment (WHO, 2005), the development of low-threshold services and the provision of sterile equipment and education programmes, although it should be noted that there are differences between countries with respect to the emphasis placed on these different service elements. Of particular importance is that there should be sufficient availability of oral substitution treatment for injecting opioid users, as this significantly reduces drug-related behaviour with a high risk of HIV transmission (Gowing et al., 2005; Sullivan et al., 2005).

(137) In two recent conferences, European government representatives have confirmed their partnership in the fight against HIV/AIDS and defined measures to strengthen their responses in this area (Dublin Declaration, February 2004, and Vilnius Declaration, September 2004). All EU key documents on HIV/AIDS can be found on the European Commission’s public health website.