This report breaks new ground in the HIV/AIDS prevention literature by reviewing harm reduction initiatives and programmes in the context of Russian and international law. The intention is to guide the reader through the complexities of the laws governing HIV and drug misuse and to determine the various legal difficulties relating to these initiatives. The policy options that appear to be available to address them and to allow harm reduction programmes to become an integral part of Russia’s response to its HIV/AIDS epidemic are set out. With the intensification of the “harm reduction versus drug supply/demand reduction” debate there is a need to ensure that policy makers have a thorough understanding of the concept of harm reduction, related terminology and relevant aspects of the law.
Besides the classic approaches (drug counselling centres, therapy for substance abuse) there exist reform and pilot projects to develop alternative ways of helping. These are intended for longtime drug users who have undergone several therapies unsuccessfully or could not be reached by existing resources. Amongst those alternative services is the treatment with substitution therapy as well as the establishment of drug consumption rooms.
The first drug consumption room for opiate-dependent persons in Germany was opened in Frankfort on the Main in December 1994. In March 2003 there were 19 drug consumption rooms in the Federal Republic of Germany: These institutions provide several hundred drug injecting places; they are used every day by several thousand addicts several times a day.
In the Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2002 that was released on February 26, the president of the Board, Dr. Philip O. Emafo from Nigeria, launches a strong attack against groups that advocate legalisation or decriminalisation of drug offences.