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Articles tagged with: AIDS

May26

Yes, drug laws absolutely hurt HIV prevention and treatment, study shows.

Friday, 26 May 2017 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Social Media, As Prevention , African, Caribbean and Black, Gay Men, Treatment Guidelines -including when to start, Women, Health, International , Legal, Treatment, Revolving Door, Guest Authors

"In the five countries where the HIV epidemic is now being driven by injection drug use—China, Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam—drug users are the least likely to know their HIV status and be taking HIV medications." From Newsweek, Jessica Wapner

Yes, drug laws absolutely hurt HIV prevention and treatment, study shows.

To read the complete story by Jessica Wapner, visit Newsweek, here.

When it comes to HIV risk factors, IV drug use is catching up to sex. Among people who inject drugs, an estimated 13 percent have HIV. About 30 percent of new infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa are the result of sticking dirty needles into vulnerable veins. In 2014, more than half of new HIV infections in Eastern Europe and central Asia were due to drugs. In the Middle East and northern Africa, nearly one-third of infections occurred by this route.

People living with HIV who also inject drugs have never had equal access to antiretroviral therapy, the standard treatment for the viral disease, or to HIV prevention programs. In the five countries where the HIV epidemic is now being driven by injection drug use—China, Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam—drug users are the least likely to know their HIV status and be taking HIV medications.

A newly published report in Lancet HIV confirms the long-suspected assertion that the war on drugs is only making matters worse. The study, the first scientific review on this issue, provides concrete evidence that drug laws are harmful to preventing and treating HIV. To conduct their review, researchers from several academic institutions analyzed 106 studies on the criminalization of drug use, HIV prevention and HIV treatment published between 2006 and 2014. They searched the reports for connections between indications of criminal drug use, such as street-level policing, and HIV risk factors, such as syringe sharing. According to their findings, published in Lancet HIV, 85 studies showed that criminalized drug use interfered with HIV prevention and treatment.

When it comes to HIV, the main problem with criminalizing drug use is that it leads users to share paraphernalia. Many states have laws against distributing clean needles and syringes, so people who inject drugs together pass a needle around, sometimes for days. Incarcerating drug users and street policing also interfered with HIV prevention and treatment programs, according to the report. Punitive policies force drug users to hide, which leads to more needle sharing and a lower likelihood of seeking HIV testing and treatment.  

Some studies included in the Lancet HIV review did not show this negative effect. But those studies showed no reduction in injection drug use resulting from these laws. “Reducing the criminalization of [people who inject drugs], and focusing instead on evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment measures is unlikely to result in increased rates of drug use,” the authors write. The few studies that did show a reduction in HIV cases tied to drug laws were weak at best, according to the report.

To read the complete story by Jessica Wapner, visit Newsweek, here.

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