Does the War on Drugs Worsen the HIV/AIDS Epidemic? | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Does the War on Drugs Worsen the HIV/AIDS Epidemic?

A new report claims that the War on Drugs has increased the spread of HIV by preventing many drug users from seeking treatment.


Drug addicts forced to share needles
contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Photo via

By Jed Bickman


| Share

The global War on Drugs is partially responsible for the HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The report, which is signed by former presidents of Brazil, Columbia, Pakistan, Mexico, Greece, Chile, and other world leaders, including George Schultz, the former US Secretary of State, shows that the war on drugs exacerbates the spread of HIV and interferes with public health by forcing drug users into the shadows and creating barriers to healthcare and services. Countries that adopted harm reduction policies, such as needle exchanges and supervised injection facilities (like in British Columbia), drastically reduced the number of new infections. The stigma and fear of criminalization drives addicts underground: a study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, shows 19% of new infections among drug users could have been avoided if police stopped abusing drug users (and simply enforced the laws as written). The report calls on national governments to “halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others,” saying that mass incarceration is connected to needle sharing and unprotected sex, and creates a barrier to obtaining antiretroviral treatment. Thailand—which had success in combating the spread of HIV among sex workers through using a harm-reduction and public health policy—has maintained a tough stance on drugs, resulting in a much higher degree of vulnerability to HIV among drug users than any other segment of the population, including sex workers. In a broad survey of cities around the world, in cities without needle exchange programs, overall new HIV infections increased by 6% per year, whereas in cities with those programs, the rate decreased by the same amount. The report urges policy makers to adopt “evidence-based and rights-affirming” interventions against drug use and scaling up public health driven treatment options in countries like the US that use a policing model to combat drug use.

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. 


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