The criminalization of drug use and the people who use drugs affects HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) rates and patterns in how HIV and HCV are transmitted. Healthcare access for people who use drugs can be complicated by the criminalization of drugs, and this impacts health outcomes those who are often vulnerable as a result of poverty, undiagnosed and /or under supported mental health challenges, and racism, among other social determinants. The relationship of criminalization and HIV is well documented by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; a recent resource turns to the relationship of criminal law and harm reduction.
In partnership with Harm Reduction International, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has released a new briefing paper, Harm Reduction in Canada: What Governments Need to Do Now. It examines current drug policy and its deep impact on public health. It calls for action in six areas by all levels of government to protect the health and human rights of all Canadians. It demands that drug policy be guided by evidence and public health objectives.
It’s a good complement to a piece just published in The Lancet: HIV and the Criminalization of Drug Use Among People Who Inject Drugs: A systematic review. The review examined 106 studies. Of these 106 studies reviewed, 85 (80%) suggested that criminalization of drugs has a negative effect on HIV prevention and treatment.
If you’re interested in research on the intersections of drug policy, public health, and social determinants of health, visit the BC Centre on Substance Use site. The BC Centre on Substance Use works closely with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The BCCSU’s mandate is “to develop, help implement, and evaluate evidence-based approaches to substance use and addiction.”
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Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, [email protected]