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Wolfe, Daniel & Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch
Illicit Drug Policies and the Global HIV Epidemic: Effects of UN and National Government Approaches
Open Society Institute - International Harm Reduction Development Program, New York, 2004

"This paper was commissioned by the HIV/AIDS Task Force of the Millennium Project. The Open Society Institute's International Harm Reduction Development program co-funded the preparation of this report with the Millennium Project." Copyright 2004 Open Society Institute. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


"More than two decades of HIV have taught the world some clear lessons on how to successfully contain the virus. Effective HIV prevention includes not only the provision of tools such as condoms to help block HIV transmission, but also recognition of the ways in which HIV risk is shaped by and reduced through the engagement of multiple sectors of society. The HIV epidemic also offers more bitter lessons about the consequences of failure to support HIV prevention. While HIV transmission through contaminated injection equipment is well documented, less attention has been paid to the ways that illicit drug policy and related issues, such as patterns of arrest of drug users or government stance toward provision of sterile injection equipment, shape global trends in HIV infection.

This report examines the intersection of global and national drug policy and HIV trends, with particular attention to those countries where the use of contaminated injection equipment is the primary mode of HIV transmission. Specifically, it highlights the two competing frameworks most commonly used to conceptualize drugs, drug users, and appropriate policy responses at the international and national levels: one regarding criminal enforcement as central, and the other relying on the best practices of public health."

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Related Published Resources


  • International Harm Reduction Development Program of the Open Society Institute, Saving Lives by Reducing Harm: HIV Prevention and Treatment for Injecting Drug Users, n/d, 3 pp. [ PDF File | Details... ]