Prisoners are the most neglected key population group in AIDS response. The UNODC HIV programme helps countries achieve universal access to comprehensive prevention, treatment & care services for people in prisons.


Opioid agonist therapy drastically reduces the risk of mortality after release from prison. Providers, however, reported that some patients prefer to cease treatment prior to release back into the community.


Deaths from synthetic opioids, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, and heroin totalled 49 068 in 2017 in the USA, with the sharpest increase occurring in fatal overdose related to oxycodone, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues. In Europe, five fentanyl derivatives were identified in 2017, and these are being mixed with other drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The danger of mixing different drugs is that the user is often unaware of which substances they are consuming with the result that they are at even greater risk of overdose—particularly problematic with fentanyl, which is estimated to be between 50 and 100 times more potent than heroin.


Research showing that users are more susceptible to overdoses in unfamiliar places is one more argument for safe-injection sites in jails.


Sexual contacts are an undeniable fact among prisoners around the world. However, policy makers and prison governors as well as medical services deny the existence of same-sex-activities in prisons. Homophobia is a global concept of denial of human variety of sexual identity. Once again the resistance against the provision of evidence-based preventive strategies is politically and morally driven! Again we find an example that effective and efficient strategies to fight HIV and other STIs are blocked by cultural anxieties deeply rooted in emotional resistance and the ignorance of easy-to-go preventive methods.


This comics was produced in the framework of the EU co-funded project “My first 48 hours out” – comprehensive approaches to pre and post prison release interventions for drug users in the criminal justice system”, implemented by the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt.

4th European Harm Reduction Conference will be in Bucharest, Romania, 21.11.2018 to 23.11.2018

Harm Reduction is an acknowledged part of drug policy in almost all countries in Europe due to overwhelming evidence that it is an effective measure to protect people who use drugs from harm and unintended consequences of drug use. Harm reduction in a broader sense is applied with an holistic approach, taking into account the wellbeing of the individual, the social and health aspects of drug policy such as criminalization and stigmatisation on the one side and social inclusion on the other side.

People in prison experience a higher burden of communicable diseases such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV often linked to a history of injecting drug use. In addition, incarceration can result in a higher risk of transmission of communicable diseases, due to factors such as overcrowding, poor healthcare facilities and delayed diagnosis. In their joint public health guidance published today at AIDS 2018, ECDC and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) outline evidence-based and effective measures to help prevent and control the transmission of blood-borne viruses in prison settings.

Naloxone saves lives – a hands-on toolkit for policy makers and practitioners on how to set up and run naloxone programmes for overdose prevention upon release from prison and other custodial settings

Coping strategies amongst resilient harm reduction organisations and community networks in the context of shrinking space for civil society in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Prisons aren’t linking people to adequate addiction treatment — and many are dying as a result.

This report looks at the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in prison settings. This is a rapidly developing phenomenon, but empirical data are currently scarce and patchy. There is growing evidence that NPS are responsible for a large share of drug-related problems in some European prisons and appropriate responses are mostly lacking.

This report provides EU/EEA Member States with evidence-based scientific advice on active case finding options. These options can be applied to the planning and implementation of interventions that promote the early diagnosis of communicable diseases in prison settings.

Program aims to stop the spread of infections such as HIV, Aids and hepatitis C among inmates who are drug users

Nurses working in prisons are being hospitalised by Spice fumes, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

The recent and prolonged increase in the number of drug-related deaths, together with news of more offenders dying in the community and worries about the general impact of austerity in terms of reduced access to services, have all combined to raise concerns about the risk of overdose among those released from prison.

As part of UNODC's efforts to provide technical assistance and advisory services in the field of prison reform, last month saw the signing of a new agreement with the Government of Tajikistan to support the development of metalwork and woodworking programmes in Dushanbe and Khujand.

Brave young people had enough of harsh drug laws in Belarus and fight back. They found allies in the mothers of drug convicts, who went on hunger strike to demand an end to the war on their sons.

The methamphetamine epidemic sweeping New Zealand is not only causing personal heartache, it's costing the prison service millions.

A new pilot project to introduce American-style 'drug courts' to Northern Ireland is being developed.