Report to the International Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR): Right to health of people who use drugs and people living with HIV in Uzbekistan

This report is submitted by the HIV Legal Network and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association. The report is based on official statistics, information from the open sources, and communications with civil society activists in Uzbekistan.

In 2014, the Committee noted the growing incidence of HIV and AIDS, particularly among people who inject drugs, and urged Uzbekistan to strengthen its efforts to improve treatment and prevention of tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS, including by resuming the opioid substitution therapy (OST), as announced during the dialogue (para 24 of the Concluding Observations).

In 2021, people who inject drugs remain the most affected population in the context of HIV with an HIV prevalence 25 times than among adults aged 15 to 49.

Despite this, the Government of Uzbekistan did not fulfill the recommendation to resume OST, as announced during the dialogue in 2014. Instead, Uzbekistan enforces heavy-handed drug policy aimed at people who use drugs rather than at people engaged in wholesale commercial trafficking. In addition, Uzbekistan enforces laws that discriminate against people who use drugs, including those with drug dependence, based on their health status and unreasonably limit their social and economic rights. Moreover, people living with HIV are discriminated against based on their HIV status due to the broad definitions and imbalanced practices to enforce laws that criminalize HIV exposure and transmission.

We will break the report into four interrelated issues. After each pair of issues, we will present the Committee with very short draft recommendations, which, in our view, would be the most appropriate manner for the Committee to help improve Uzbekistan’s performance under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights in response to HIV and the use of narcotic drugs.