"Social Evils" and Harm Reduction: The Evolving Policy Environment for HIV Prevention Among Injection Drug Users in China and Vietnam
January 24, 2008
Both China and Vietnam "are experiencing HIV epidemics driven by injection drug use and have maintained generally severe policies towards injection drug users (IDUs)," noted the authors, who based the current study on their experiences and observations as well as government policy, documents, and legislation.
"In recent years, however, [both countries] have also officially endorsed harm reduction," wrote the authors, who "sought to understand how and why this apparently surprising policy evolution took place."
In both nations, "factors associated with growing support for harm reduction were similar but not identical." Among these were "the emergence of effective 'champions' for such policies, an ethos of pragmatism and receptivity to evidence, growing collaboration across public health, police and other sectors, the influence of contingent events such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and pressure from donors and international organizations to adopt best practice in HIV prevention."
The authors concluded that until "a fully harmonized policy environment is established, the persistence of tensions between drug control and harm reduction" may negatively affect the programs. "Excessive reliance on law enforcement and forced detoxification will not solve the problems of substance abuse or HIV among drug users," the researchers wrote. "Ongoing evaluation of harm reduction programs, as well as increased levels of multi-sectoral training, collaboration and support are also needed."
01.2008; Vol. 103, No. 1: P. 137-145; Theodore M. Hammett, Zunyou Wu, Tran Tien Duc, David Stephens, Sheena Sullivan, Wei Liu, Yi Chen, Doan Hgu, Don C. Des Jarlais
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.