Peers, Policy and Practice: UN position on Peer and Community based interventions (abstract)

Speaker: Michal Bartos (UNAIDS, Geneve, Switzerland)

The core elements of effective harm reduction efforts have been well defined and over the past four years have been widely accepted in all key United Nations decision making fora. There is increasing evidence that the effectiveness of these measures is not only their component elements, but the extent to which they operate in synergy. Consistent with UNAIDS’ support for combination prevention approaches, we need a better appreciation of the ways in which provision of services directed towards individuals needs to be in concert with community mobilization activities and supported through structural change which provides the enabling environment for these to operate. Ensuring that the voices of drug users are heard in policy decision making, that peer capacity building and outreach is scaled up, and that punitive laws are removed are thus not merely ‘add ons’ to effective harm reduction programmes but a core part of their effectiveness. This presentation will elaborate UNAIDS support for these strategies in advancing towards the goal of ‘no new HIV infections among drug users’.


CV: Since 2007 Michael Bartos has led the team coordinating UNAIDS policy and strategy in HIV prevention, both in generalized epidemics and for key populations including injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men. Prior to assuming his current position he represented UNAIDS for three years in Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize. He joined UNAIDS in 2000 as Senior Policy Advisor and Speechwriter to the Executive Director. Before joining UNAIDS he was a Research Fellow in Australia’s national HIV research programme, at La Trobe and Macquarie universities, conducting research on socio-economic and behavioral aspects of HIV. He has advised governments and international bodies on a range of AIDS issues, including quality of life and policy aspects of HIV vaccines. He was involved in the community response to AIDS in Australia from the earliest years of the epidemic holding leadership positions in the Victorian AIDS Council and Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations. He has published on social research and policy aspects of AIDS and its impacts, including in Nature and The Lancet.