A fascinating and compelling presentation from Charles Chauvel from the a Global Comission on HIV and the Law and UNDP.
Charles spoke of the higher HIV prevalence in countries where sex work, injecting drug use and MSM are criminalised activities. He showed some graphs which clearly showed the relationship between reduction in harm reduction programs and increasing HIV. Charles gave the example of the Philippines where harm reduction services for PWID were dramatically reduced and HIV prevalence in PWID increased from 1% to over 40% in just 6 years. Although there are likely other factors at play here it is still a staggering increase.
It seems that attitudes are changing at a global level and hopefully we will see an end to the 'war on drugs' as this can hamper our efforts to reduce HIV incidence as well as access to those at risk who may need testing and treatment. We need more of a focus on drug use as a health issue and also the social issues which can contribute to problematic use.
As Charles stated in his presentation, law reform is an effective way to reduce HIV transmissions and its free!