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Presenting author: Kestutis Butkus
HIV/AIDS outburst in Lithuania started in prison system, as imprisoned drug users (DU) were sharing injectables. Prison Department was the institution, that more than 15 years ignored initiatives from harm reduction programs, by civil society as well by DU communities. DU undergoing Methadone and imprisoned for various reasons didn’t get any substitution treatment there, despite their health state. Other medicine that relieves abstinence were not prescribed also.Thus DU were to endure not only imprisonment, but also long lasting severe abstinence.
At that time substitution treatment was available in 5 cities in Lithuania. Many of DU that started the methadone treatment got various fines and penalties from their past. Methadone treatment was not available despite of the fact that Lithuania’s law guaranteed and the WHO recommended the continuity of methadone treatment.
In 2011 I was arrested for keeping 2g of marijuana and sentenced for 45 days imprisonment.At that time I was the patient of Methadone Program for 10 years. I suffered not only the isolation, but also the long lasting severe abstinence without any medical help. During the imprisonment time the Coalition I CAN LIVE and my relatives found the advocate who helped to write the application for Substitutional Methadone treatment during the penalty period.The official negative answer to ensure my further methadone treatment and my witness of my sufferings was the basis for the claim which started on 13.04.2012. Up till the autumn of 2016 there were hold 20 trial sittings, not taking into account the appeal sessions. At some state the Case was presented to the European Human Rights Court having in mind the approach of Lithuanian courts to the DU we were almost sure that we will loose the Case.
But in the result the Substitutional Methadone Treatment was accepted in the imprisonment places of Lithuania in 2018.