The European Network on Drugs and Infection Prevention in Prisons (ENDIPP) organized its 8th Annual International Conference on Drugs and Infections Prevention in Prisons “Unlocking potentials – Making Prisons Safe for everyone” in Budapest, Hungary on July 7 – 9, 2005.
The participants discussed drug and HIV/AIDS situation in the European penitentiary system: safety of both inmates and staff is threatened by growing prevalence of high risk behaviors like needle sharing and unprotected sex. According to the estimations around 180.000-600.000 drug users enter EU prison system each year, the prevalence of illicit drug use is much higher among inmates than among general population. Notwithstanding, most inmates have no access to effective prevention, treatment and harm reduction services are widely accepted outside prison walls. Experts of a prison-based substitution therapy and syringe exchange programs said the basic barriers are ideological and not financial: some of the least developed countries like Moldova or Kyrgyzstan could afford successful implementation of NEPs in prisons, while highly developed countries in Europe and North America still can not. According to one of the key speakers Ralph Jurgens (Canadian HIV/AIDS Alliance), Ukraine is also planning to start its first prison-based pilot harm reduction program in the near future. On the contrary, Jozsef Petretei, the Hungarian Minister of Justice, emphasized the importance of the 14 newly established drug-free wings in Hungarian prisons in his opening speech, but did not mention the need to introduce harm reduction services. However, there is a growing international commitment to harm reduction in prisons: WHO published a status paper on prison health a few weeks ago which promotes equal access to harm reduction services inside prisons.
More about the conference is available at: