International Drug Users Day 2007

INTERNATIONAL DRUG USERS DAY 2007

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL), the national peak body representing the state and territory drug user organisations and issues of national significance for people who use or have used illicit drugs, is proud to support and celebrate International Drug Users Day on Thursday 1 November 2007.

“Across Australia, a range of events will be held including local barbeques, information sessions and media campaigns” said Ms Madden, AIVL’s Executive Officer.

“Additionally, events will be held across the globe including campaigns in the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Russia along with many other countries. The range of activities being held is extremely diverse. For example, in Warsaw a spiritual eucharist will be held to coincide with a candle light march in acknowledgement of local monks who provide harm reduction and support services for street-based outreach workers”.

One of the main aims of the day is to acknowledge the positive contribution people who use illicit drugs have made have made to public health policy and practice. The involvement of people who use illicit drugs in Australian public health policy over the last 15 years has resulted in Australia maintaining one of the lowest rates of HIV/AIDS in the developed world amongst people who inject drugs. “Australia’s much heralded low rate of HIV among people who inject drugs could not have been achieved without two equally important ingredients – the implementation of best practice harm reduction approaches and the direct involvement of people who inject drugs in the form of peer-based organisations and programs” Ms Madden stated.

International research evidence shows that harm reduction approaches including needle and syringe programs (NSP), safer injecting education and opioid substitution programs have not only improved the health of people who inject drugs but they have done so in a highly cost effective manner. Between 1991 and 2000 the Australian Government has saved more than $370 million due to their investment in NSP and the associated prevention of tens of thousands of HIV and hepatitis C cases. “There are very few if any public health initiatives that could demonstrate such a clear and significant return on the Government’s investment” stated Ms Madden.

Despite the positive contributions made by peer-based drug user organisations over many years, individuals who use illicit drugs continue to be marginalised, stigmatized and criminalized by society. Such treatment benefits no-one and often results in negative outcomes for people who use illicit drugs, their families and ultimately the entire community. “We believe the slogan on the International Drug Users Day postcard perfectly sums up what the day is really all about… Drug users are people. Drug users have families. Drug users are part of your community.”

On International Drug Users Day 2007, ‘just say no’ to treating people who use illicit drugs as second class citizens.