Iran has a concentrated HIV epidemic with a low prevalence of less than 0.1% in the general population but a high prevalence among most at-risk populations, particularly people who inject drugs.
UNDP works with the government and the Global Fund to fight HIV, TB and Malaria to implement activities focused on reaching this vulnerable group, which includes a Peer Education Programme in prisons.
To share best practice, a study-tour was organised from 10-15 November 2018 for a delegation from Republic of Azerbaijan.
The visit was overseen by the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) which provides support for the overall direction of the Global Fund grants in country and includes representatives from government, the private sector, technical partners, and representatives from civil society and communities living with the diseases.
In addition to exploring Iran’s best practices from the Harm Reduction Programme, the aim of the tour was to strengthen cooperation between the two countries and to share lessons learned from the implementation of the programme in Iran.
The delegation from Azerbaijan included representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Justice who were accompanied by Iran’s CCM Coordinator, National Harm Reduction staff and staff from UNDP Iran HIV/AIDS Unit.
Through organizing meetings and daily visits for the delegation, the host country provided a thorough review of the programme in Iran, including meetings with national authorities and visits to centers providing services to people who use drugs. A platform was also created so that the members of the delegation could ask questions, raise concerns and better understand each countries approach.
The study tour included meetings with the CCM Vice Chair and with UNDP as the Principal Recipient of the Global Fund HIV grant. Meetings with Sub-Recipients of the Global Fund HIV grant and national related bodies were also organized in which each organization presented on the Harm Reduction Programmes being implemented in their settings. A meeting was also held with the representative of Drug Control Headquarters.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the tour included visits to the Center for Communicable Diseases Control, the Mental Health Social Health of Addiction Department, the Welfare Organization and the Prisons Organization which facilitated a visit to Hamedan Central Prison.
A de-briefing session was held on the final day of the tour with Joint UN Team on AIDS (JUNTA) who shared their views on HIV/AIDS and their supports towards Harm Reduction Programme. In this meeting, representatives from UNAIDS, UNDP, UNODC, UNHCR and UNIC were also present to respond to questions from the Azerbaijan delegation.
The visit was a great success and a strong example of our commitment to sharing learning. This exchange provided an excellent opportunity for us to learn from each other’s contexts and we look forward to working together to reduce the HIV prevalence rate among people who use drugs in both countries.