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ID: 517

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Drug Consumption Rooms/Safer Injecting Facilities; Harm Reduction Advocacy and Activism

Presenting author: Marian Ursan

Presenting author biography:

The Executive Director of CARUSEL, activist in the field of HIV, human rights and harm reduction since 1996, one of founders of the harm reduction services in Romania, PhD in the field of Sociology

Stepping forward to the creation of DCRs in Romania

Marian Ursan, Cristina Oprea, Iulia Vaida

The drug use in public space become an issue among the inhabitants of the capital city of Romania. Drug users started to inject in the streets, parks, abandoned buildings and parking lots. Syringes are dropped around these premises and the media started to report this phenomenon as a danger for the general population.

In Bucharest, the incidence of HIV among injecting drug users increase with 907% in last years.

With funding support from OSF, Carusel assessed the opportunity and necessity to establish supervised drug consumption rooms (DCRs) in Bucharest. A feasibility study has been produced with the participation of key professionals working in the field, people who inject drugs (PWID) and the general population. By providing access to journalists to the already-existing DCRs in Barcelona, we have generated positive media attention and started to improve the previously negative attitudes towards drug users. Soon journalists started to present the DCRs as a sustainable solution for the city. Police officers, representatives of different ministries and experts working for the city have been exposed to scientific evidence and have learned how the situation improved in the places where DCRs become available. They also have been invited to visit the DCRs in Barcelona and witness the success of other administrations who change their legislation and operates DCRs.

The subject of DCRs is now well-known among the professionals working in the fields of health, public order and justice. The general population has been exposed to information about the DCRs, thanks to a dedicated website and articles and TV reports which are also available online. Now, Google is indexing the right information when searching the Romanian translation for the “drug consumption rooms”. The next steps are the legislative changes, which look much easier to be done thanks to allies, and the opening of a pilot DCR.