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Global leaders: Drug war ‘the main reason’ for continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic

• Stephen C. Webster via The Raw

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an assemblage of former national leaders, policy makers and experts, has issued a new report (PDF) that calls the war on drugs “the main reason” for the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world.

The group, which includes former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Poland, Switzerland and Brazil, blames “aggressive law enforcement practices targeting drug users” for raising barriers to HIV treatments that are shown to reduce the disease’s spread. Their report claims these policies have driven a political atmosphere in which “evidence-based addiction treatment and public health measures have been downplayed or ignored.”

To address these problems, the commission urges the United Nations to officially recognize that the drug war is “the main reason” for the HIV/AIDS epidemic in certain parts of the world, and to respond with evidence-based solutions like supporting clean needle exchanges, safe injection centers and doctor-administered addiction therapies.

Similar steps were taken in Greece before the country plunged into financial crisis, but as budgets dried up those programs were removed, and medical authorities soon noticed a massive 1,450 percent increase in HIV infections. Many of those inflected people have since become entangled in the country’s criminal justice system, which makes addressing their risk-taking behaviors even more difficult and exposes them to general prison populations.

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