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INHSU 2022 Community Statement
Each year, ahead of the main conference, the Community Committee of the International Conference on Health and Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU conference) hosts a pre-conference event, welcoming the global community of people who use drugs and highlighting topics that are impacting them right now.
A community statement is prepared, which forms part of the opening ceremony of the main INHSU conference. Thank you to Jason Wallace from the Scottish Drugs Forum for reading the 2022 statement and helping ensure the community voice rang loud and clear throughout the event.
With the aim of guiding research partnerships, policymakers, and health and medical professionals, the statement’s core themes call for an end to the war on drugs, proper recognition for research and work, and the need to ensure equal access to harm reduction and hepatitis prevention services, regardless of location or drug use status.
Decriminalisation and harm reduction
- People who inject drugs are rights bearers – we have not given up our human rights, including the right to health, just because our behaviour is deemed criminal or immoral – we must end the criminalisation of people who use drugs
- Provide safe supply of drugs for all, especially in areas where the illicit supply is poisoned
- Stigma and discrimination are a driver of the epidemic and create barriers to prevention and treatment. Any form of discrimination based on a person’s drug use is unacceptable
- Prohibition and criminalisation mean that many community members cannot attend or obtain visas for this conference, or others. This is about embedded racism
Healthcare, including blood-borne viruses
- People who inject, or with a history of injecting drug use, are the leading stakeholders in all aspects of hepatitis C prevention, treatment, policy reform and service delivery design, implementation and monitoring
- The health of people who use drugs is wider than blood-borne virus prevention and treatment
- Ending the war on drugs would free up sufficient funding to fully fund hepatitis C treatment and prevention and offer a safe supply for all
- Drug law reform and ending the criminalisation of people who use drugs are fundamental to the elimination of hepatitis C
- Inequity in access to testing and treatment across the world is not justifiable and is causing ongoing, preventable deaths in our community
- Scale up prevention globally, specifically needle and syringe programs. NSP should include health services and be peer-led. Hepatitis C transmission occurs via each piece of equipment and access must be scaled up and widened, including in prison
- Health care and treatment must be available regardless of citizenship or migration status
- The first principle of treatment access is empowering people to understand and demand appropriate health care
- Ensure equal access to treatment regardless of substance use or injecting status
- Deliver treatment within a wholistic and multidisciplinary model of health
Research needs to be community controlled
- Research must be community controlled. This is the only way to ensure that data is appropriately interpreted and presented
- Community control of research includes data ownership and early ongoing involvement. This is a complex task as most community organisations are under-resourced
- Rapidly expand access to pharmacotherapy and recognise that people inject a diverse range of substances beyond opioids and polydrug use is the norm rather than the exception
- The community want to be involved in research, but we want to be involved from the beginning
- We want to be properly paid for the work we do. We need clearly defined roles between voluntary work and paid work
- We want proper opportunities for career progression, we don’t always want to be “just a peer worker”
- We want proper supervision and support whether we are volunteers or paid employees
- If you want us to be involved in research, policy, service delivery/planning or strategy meetings, we need proper time to prepare, as this is not our usual field of working