Drug Users Welcomed For First Time at Global AIDS Confab | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Drug Users Welcomed For First Time at Global AIDS Confab

After being shut out of of the AIDS conference for decades, intravenous drug users finally had their own booth.

Image: 

Photo via

After decades of being left out, intravenous drug users had their voices heard last week at the 20th annual International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

A small group of drug users were permitted to enter the conference this year and a small booth in the conference hall had a sign which read: “People Who Use Drugs.” One of the participants at the booth, a heroin user named Ruth, said the medical community needed to be more inclusive with drug users and not flatly condemn them.

“I think it’s becoming more and more difficult for the international HIV and AIDS community to exclude drug users,” she said. “If we’re going to tackle this epidemic, we need to be looking at the environments that allow HIV to flourish, and certainly criminalization of both sex work and drug use are the best friends of HIV.”

Susie McLean, a senior adviser on HIV and drug use at the International HIV/AIDS Alliances, said that 30% of all new HIV infections worldwide come from intravenous drug users if you exclude sub-Saharan Africa. “They’re not a marginal group in terms of the HIV dynamics. They’re a primary group,” she said. “We think that a lot of the problem that goes on in public policy is what I tend to call 'othering'—in which we say that people who use drugs are other people over there, and that they’re bad.”

The World Health Organization has publicly supported naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of heroin and methadone overdoses. But despite this, Ruth believes that drug users are still marginalized or outright removed from discussions about their health and elevated risk of obtaining HIV.

“People who use drugs aren’t aliens. They aren’t bent on self-destruction or interested in punching your grandmother for her TV,” she said. “We’re just all making our way in this world as best we can, and some people find that drugs help them do that, and some people don’t. And I really don’t think it should be the business of those who don’t to mess with the business of those who do.”

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea
 
 
 
 

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu
 
 
 
 

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv