A new scientific consensus emerges: AIDS researchers unite against the War on Drugs

by: Daniel De Groot

Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 23:04


It seems climatologists aren't the only ones who can play the scientific consensus game, HIV/AIDS researchers have decided to make a go of the whole "using overwhelming empirical research and facts to change stupid policies" thing.  The International AIDS Conference was just held this week in Vienna and released as their official declaration a direct statement calling for decriminalizing drug users, ending mandatory drug treatment and implementation of science-based harm reduction strategies with regard to drugs in service of better HIV prevention policy.

I recommend reading the actual statement text:


We, the undersigned, call on governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, to:

   * Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies.
   * Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.
   * Decriminalise drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centres that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.26
   * Unequivocally endorse and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.27
   * Meaningfully involve members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.

We further call upon the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to urgently implement measures to ensure that the United Nations system-including the International Narcotics Control Board-speaks with one voice to support the decriminalisation of drug users and the implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.28

They've already stacked up what to my lay eyes seems like an impressive stack of Nobel laureates and respected organizations endorsing the statement.

I've written a couple times about Canada's small island of drug policy sanity, the Vancouver safe injection site, which has defied the odds and survived 4 years with a government that despises it.  Hopefully real progress can be made on this, with an influential medical community joining the fight Insite won't be alone in North America.

Joking comparison to the climatologists aside, I hope they do better than the climate types have done at actually affecting policy.  It will be useful to have a second active scientific/political movement to compare results and hopefully learn from one another.  

Daniel De Groot :: A new scientific consensus emerges: AIDS researchers unite against the War on Drugs

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Bout time; (0.00 / 0)
but in the US of A that wouldn't be financially or politically "prudent".  Republicans might says something mean about you, and pharma is likely to fund your opponent.  

Unfortunately, I am dubious (0.00 / 0)
If the reason for the drug war was a concern about individual and social health, including the transmission of HIV, then appeals to ending the drug war to better achieve healthier outcomes would make sense.

But the drug war has nothing to do with limiting drug use or achieving superior health outcomes. Nothing whatsoever. It is about the law enforcement industrial complex, racism, and authoritarian social control. And big corp profits as well.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


you're not wrong (0.00 / 0)
That the entrenched interests profiting from the status quo are not really concerned about HIV.  My point is only that this is a new ally in the fight against the war on drugs.  There's already signs of improvement in the US with various states attempting to legalize medical marijuana or decriminalize, and the fairly decent decision by Obama not to prosecute Federal drug laws where state laws are more permissive.

In that environment, maybe this extra push from a prominent scientific community could tip the balance toward progress from stalemate.


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