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Efforts To Fight Illegal Drugs Contributing To Spread Of HIV, Report Says

The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) on Tuesday published a report (.pdf) titled “The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic,” which “condemns the drug war as a failure and recommends immediate, major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime to halt the spread of HIV infection and other drug war harms,” according to the report summary (6/26). In the report, the GCDP “urged the U.N. to ‘acknowledge and address the causal links between the war on drugs and the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug market violence,’” Agence France-Presse/Straits Times reports (6/26). “It also wants the United Nations groups to push national governments to stop arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others,” Canada’s CTV News writes, adding, “Instead, government should focus on evidence-based drug-reduction interventions, such as safe injection sites and prescription heroin programs” (6/26).

“The report’s authors praise countries where ‘addiction is treated as a health issue’ such as Australia, Portugal and Switzerland, where newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among drug users,” the U.K. Press Association writes. “But the authors criticized nations including America, China, Russia and Thailand, which have ‘ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programs — with devastating consequences,’ they said,” according to the UKPA (6/26). The GCDP is “an international consortium that includes such dignitaries as the former presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Poland and Greece, former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, and former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker,” the Vancouver Sun’s “Empowered Health” blog notes (McKnight, 6/26). “The Commission’s first report, released in June 2011, generated unprecedented media coverage about drug policy reform and catalyzed international debate about the urgent need for fundamental reforms of the global drug prohibition regime,” the report summary states (6/26).