Global Drug War Fuels AIDS, Report Says
July 11, 2012
San Francisco health advocates hailed the groundbreaking new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which says the worldwide drug war is a key factor fueling the global HIV/AIDS epidemic among drug users and their sexual partners. Major policy changes are urgently needed, the report says.
Laura Thomas, the San Francisco-based deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, "This report is unprecedented: global leaders, including former heads of state, saying that the drug policies promoted and enforced by the United States are one of the reasons that the HIV epidemic is so large and that we need to completely overhaul our approach to drug use and drug users to end HIV/AIDS."
The commission emphasized that making drugs illegal leads to flourishing black markets accompanied by organized crime and violence. It noted that drug policies are too often based on morality or law enforcement priorities rather than scientific evidence. Furthermore, repressive national drug policies and criminalization of drug users drive them away from prevention and treatment services.
The report recommended "replacing the criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs with the offer of health and treatment services"; breaking the taboo on debating drug policy reform; refocusing law enforcement efforts on violent organized crime and drug traffickers; and promoting alternative sentences for small-scale and first-time dealers. Other harm-reduction efforts include needle-exchange programs, opiate substitution therapy, and legal provision of prescription heroin.
Thomas said, "San Francisco has long understood the connection between HIV/AIDS and drug policy, it's why we support sterile syringe access and methadone and medical cannabis access, and pushed for harm-reduction approaches to methamphetamine use among gay/bisexual men." She added, "We still need to do more if we're serious about ending HIV here, including establishing supervised injection facilities."
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
07.05.2012; Liz Highleyman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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