Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

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

 

From the 29 June 2012 article at Time.com

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...

(A PDF of the report may be found here***)

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.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rights Of People With Disabilities Are Not Being Promoted, Study Finds

The Rights Of People With Disabilities Are Not Being Promoted, Study Finds

From the press release of Queen’s University (January 25, 2012

Historic legal rulings did not protect the rights of persons with disabilities, while legal rulings concerned with race or gender provided much more protection of individual rights and freedoms according to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Queen’s University PhD student Christopher A. Riddle has determined in a recent study. “The motivation for this examination came from the very simple observation that the rights of persons with disabilities were not being promoted through the very mechanisms designed to ensure justice for everyone,” says the study’s author…

February 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Analysis of Opinion Polls Show Americans’ Conflicting Views about the Public Health System

From the article summary at the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation

By: Blendon RJ, Benson JM, SteelFisher GK and Connolly JM
In: Health Affairs, 29(11), pp.2033-2040 [click here for the full text of the article]
Publisher: Project HOPE-The People-To-People Health Foundation, Inc.
Published: November 2010

This analysis of national opinion polls shows that a majority of Americans support increased spending on public health in general and that they see public health interventions as saving money in the long term. At the same time, many do not favor increased federal spending in a number of areas that public health officials deem important. In addition, polls show striking partisan differences, with Republicans much less supportive than Democrats of additional spending on public health. This split may have political implications for the public health component of the new health reform law if there is a change in party control of one or more houses of Congress after the November 2010 elections. As a result, in order to sustain public support for increased spending, it will be critically important to give examples of cost savings from public health programs and to highlight how they have reduced mortality from major chronic illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS.

November 14, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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