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Drug Policy Group Says ‘War on Drugs” Accelerates Spread of HIV

The Global Commission on Drug Policy says war on drugs style policies fuel the spread of HIV. The GCDP is a think tank comprised of 6 former world leaders, a former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, British entrepreneur Richard Branson and other notables.

In their report ‘The War On Drugs And HIV/AIDS - How The Criminalisation Of Drug Use Fuels The Global Pandemic’ the think tank group reflects on how different approaches to drug control result in very different outcomes. They say countries that have moved to evidence based drug policies have seen HIV rates decline while countries which have ignored scientific evidence in favor of a crime and punishment approach to drug policy have seen HIV rates – and drug availability – increase.

Arguing against the continuation of what they say are failed drug control polices, the report authors say that global heroin availability has increased by 380% over the last decades as governments have devoted increasing resources to suppression and incarceration.

But while crime and punishment drug policies have not worked to reduce supply, they have been very effective in scaring drug users underground and away from harm reduction and treatment services that are proven to reduce drug use rates and cut HIV transmission.

  • The report gives ‘A’ grades to countries like Switzerland, Australia and Portugal, which have all reduced the criminalization of drug use in favor of increased harm reduction and treatment services and which have all seen a resultant reduction in HIV rates and injection drug use.
  • In contrast, the report lists a number of countries, such as Russia, the US and Thailand, which continue to ignore evidence based practices in favor of a crime and punishment model of drug control – to what the report authors call “devastating consequences.”

The think tank is calling for the UN to "acknowledge and address the causal links between the war on drugs and the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug market violence” and urging prompt action and change, declaring, “The war on drugs has failed, and millions of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths can be averted if action is taken now.”



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