How the Global War on Drugs Drives HIV and AIDS
Global Commission Calls for Drug Decriminalization and Expansion of Proven, Cost-Effective Solutions to Reduce HIV/AIDS – Including Sterile Syringe Access, Safer Injection Facilities, and Prescription Heroin Programs
The war on drugs is driving much of the global AIDS pandemic, increasing new infections among injection-drug users in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy...
bout one-third of all new infections outside of sub-Sarahan Africa occur in injection-drug users.
Since the 1990s, effective public-health strategies to curb HIV transmission in drug users have led to drops in new infections in most countries. But over the same time period, seven countries have seen a 25% increase in new infections. Not coincidentally, five of these countries — mainly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia — employ aggressive drug war strategies, such as arresting and incarcerating users for drug or needle possession…
…These tactics have been shown to be ineffective not only for controlling drug use, but also for reining in the spread of HIV. Why? Because the fear of recrimination prevents drug users from seeking clean needles — a major risk factor for HIV infection. In the U.S. as well, areas with the highest infection rates are those that have the most aggressive drug policies, the report shows. The solution is straightforward, if drastic; it requires a complete overhaul of current drug policy: drug users need treatment, not imprisonment, and drug possession needs to be decriminalized, the authors argue.
The Commission’s recommendations are summarized here. They include:
- Push national governments to halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others.
- Measure drug policy success by indicators that have real meaning in communities, such as reduced rates of transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases, fewer overdose deaths, reduced drug market violence, fewer individuals incarcerated and lowered rates of problematic substance use.
- Respond to the fact that HIV risk behavior resulting from repressive drug control policies and under-funding of evidence-based approaches is the main issue driving the HIV epidemic in many regions of the world.
- Act urgently: The war on drugs has failed, and millions of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths can be averted if action is taken now.
How the drug war fuels the HIV pandemic:
- Fear of arrest drives persons who use drugs underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high-risk environments.
- Restrictions on provision of sterile syringes to drug users result in increased syringe sharing.
- Prohibitions or restrictions on opioid substitution therapy and other evidence-based treatment result in untreated addiction and avoidable HIV risk behavior.
- Deficient conditions and lack of HIV prevention measures in prison lead to HIV outbreaks among incarcerated drug users.
- Disruptions of HIV antiretroviral therapy result in elevated HIV viral load and subsequent HIV transmission and increased antiretroviral resistance.
- Limited public funds are wasted on harmful and ineffective drug law enforcement efforts instead of being invested in proven HIV prevention strategies.
- How the Global War on Drugs Drives HIV and AIDS – Yahoo! News (nadernazemi.com)
- How the Global War on Drugs Drives HIV and AIDS (healthland.time.com)
- War On Drugs Fueling Spread Of HIV (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Richard Branson Calls War on Drugs ‘greatest failure of global policy in the last 40 years’ (theaveragejoenewsblogg.com)
- Global leaders: Drug war ‘the main reason’ for continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic (rawstory.com)
- How the Drug War Exacerbates the Global HIV Pandemic (alternet.org)
- Drugs policy ‘causing HIV’ (scotsman.com)
- Failed war on drugs feeding HIV/AIDs, former leaders say (cbc.ca)
- Global report claims war on drugs is driving spread of HIV (canada.com)
- War on drugs ‘fuelled HIV pandemic’ (standard.co.uk)
- Failed war on drugs feeding HIV/AIDS, former leaders say - (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- REPORT: How the war on drugs is driving the #HIV/AIDS pandemic by Global Commission on Drug Policy, 24pp (julianbuchanan.wordpress.com)
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