Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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The war on drugs is fuelling HIV


A young injecting drug user takes an HIV test in Ukraine © the Alliance

The Global Commission on Drug Policy last week published a hard-hitting report spelling out how the drug war is fuelling the HIV pandemic.

In The War On Drugs And HIV/AIDS - How The Criminalisation Of Drug Use Fuels The Global Pandemic, the report’s authors criticised nations like China, Russia, America and Thailand for having "ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programmes - with devastating consequences."

The report also talks about how fear of arrest is driving people who use drugs underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high risk environment.  It goes on to make several important recommendations including replacing the criminalization and punishment of people who use drugs with the offer of health and treatment services to those who need them; including treatment and care for drug dependence such as substitution and heroin-assisted treatment. Special attention to those most at risk, including those in prisons and other custodial settings, is recommended.

According to Susie McLean, the Alliance’s senior advisor on HIV and drug use: “Injecting drug use should primarily be considered a health issue and not one of criminality.  Failure to implement evidence-based HIV prevention programmes leads to increases in HIV transmission.   The Global Commission is absolutely right to say that the time for leadership is now.”

Useful links

Download the full report here.  

Read about the Alliance approach to drug use and HIV.

Download the Alliance's Good Practice Guide on HIV and drug use.