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U.S. News

Canada: British Columbia AIDS Doctors Join International Chorus Targeting the "War on Drugs"

July 26, 2012

In an international campaign launched during the 19th International AIDS conference, two Canadian doctors are calling on world leaders to stop the spread of AIDS by ending the so-called "war on drugs."

The British Columbia-based AIDS specialists, Drs. Evan Wood and Julio Montaner, joined British billionaire Richard Branson and former presidents of Brazil and Columbia, among others, in asking world leaders to show "leadership," "courage" and "to do the right thing." Wood said that while HIV infections rates are falling globally, they appear to be rising in countries with aggressive policies for prosecuting drug-related crimes.

The campaign is endorsed by supporters of the 2010 Vienna Declaration, which urges governments to craft evidence-based drug policies.

Injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa, according to the B.C. Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the International Center for Science in Drug Policy.

"I think globally we're seeing a real shift in terms of public opinion and a recognition that addiction should be treated more as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue," Wood said.

Wood argued that the war on drugs spreads HIV by forcing addicts into hiding and away from health officials. He noted that HIV is spreading among prison inmates who inject drugs.

Discussions about law enforcement and drugs, including such issues as mandatory minimum prison sentences and the decriminalization of marijuana, have been active in Canada recently. At the Summit of the Americas in April, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed the current approach is not working.

Back to other news for July 2012

Adapted from:
Canadian Press
07.23.2012; Kevin Drews

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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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Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.