Prison needle exchange pilot in Tajikistan

Tajikistan is about to introduce a pilot program on needle and syringe exchange programmes (NSEP) in its penitentiary system. Tajikistan will be the 2nd country in the region of Central Asia to provide NSEP together with Kyrgyzstan. Needle and syringe exchange programmes (NSEP) in penitentiary system proved their effectiveness by reducing the risk of contamination with HIV and hepatitis C among imprisoned injecting drug users who share needles and syringes. The experience of countries which introduced NSEP shows that these programmes are safe both for staff in prisoners and promote decrease and harness risky behaviors as well as the rate of blood borne diseases.
Considering the importance and the need to introduce NSEP in prisons, the Department of Correction Affairs under the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health supported by UNDP HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria Control Programme initiated a rapid assessment in several penitentiary facilities of the country in November 2009 to identify a pilot prison for NSEP.
In January 2010, the Department of Correction Affairs signed a decree on piloting NSEP in prisons of the Republic of Tajikistan. The first stage included training and raise of knowledge on the urgency and specifics of NSEP implementation for staff and prisoners in the prison. Thus, two two-day training on HIV/AIDS prevention focusing on harm reduction for 20 staff in the pilot facility were organized from February 23 to 26. A number of education sessions for prisoners are scheduled in the near future.