Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Today, in a newly released report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy calls for drug decriminalization and expansion of proven, cost-effective solutions to reduce HIV/AIDS – including sterile syringe access, safer injection facilities, and prescription heroin programs.

AAN! fully supports harm reduction measures and opposes the failed and destructive war on drugs–putting us in direct opposition to the harmful, destructive polices of the federal Conservative government.  Apparently, that puts us in some very powerful company! In it’s report, the Global Commission on Drug Policy is critical of various aspects of the Canadian government’s war on people who use drugs, including imprisonment as a risk factor for acquiring HIV.  In contrast, the report points out the HIV-preventing and health-promoting effects of treating addiction as a health issue: “… in British Columbia, Canada, the response to the explosive HIV epidemic that emerged among injection drug users in the mid-1990s has involved antiretroviral therapy, opioid substitution (including heroin prescription), syringe distribution and medically supervised injecting facilities, with resulting declines in HIV incidence and AIDS deaths among intravenous drug users there.”

In British Columbia, and across Canada, public health researchers and practitioners, human rights and other civil society organizations, groups of people who use drugs, and committed lawyers and the courts have fought the federal Conservative government to preserve these gains.  And let’s make no mistake, the federal Conservative government’s opposition to harm reduction is an anti-science, anti-academic, moral crusade on some of the most vulnerable members of society.  Even the National Post is calling them out on this one.

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