By The Global Journal | June 29, 2012 - 15:00 GMT
Criminalization of drug use fuels the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to the new report by the Global Commission on Drug policy released on Wednesday (27 June), an international panel that advocates science-based strategies to reduce the harm caused by drugs.
The report sheds light on the public health implications of HIV treatment disruptions resulting from repressive drug law enforcement practices which force drug users away from public health services and into environments where HIV risk becomes significantly higher. These practices include arrest, restrictions on the provision of sterile syringes to drug users, prohibition of certain evidence-based treatment, disruption in HIV antiretroviral therapy, as well as the lack of HIV prevention measures in prisons.
“High rates of incarceration among drug users with, or at risk of, HIV infection are a matter of deep concern, given that incarceration has been associated with syringe-sharing, unprotected sex and HIV outbreaks in many places around the world,” the authors noted.
Treating drug addiction and abuse as a criminal act rather than as a public health concern is endangering the lives of drug users and their sexual partners. While some countries have virtually eliminated drug-related HIV transmissions, drug war policies in U.S., Russia, Thailand and China cause millions of infections and AIDS deaths. The Global Commission thus calls for drug decriminalization and expansion of proven, cost-effective solutions to reduce HIV-AIDS — including sterile syringe access, safer injection facilities and prescription of heroin programs. (Photo © Global Commission on Drugs)
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