Current drug control policy undermines, rather than supports, the reach and impact of health programs for people who use drugs. Experience and evidence show that the international community could dramatically improve health and human rights outcomes.
This was a central theme of a position paper submitted on 8 April 2016 by The Global Fund to the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem. The special session is being held in New York on 19-21 April.
Despite tremendous progress made in the fight against HIV in the last 15 years, the paper said,
“the community of people who use drugs in all their diversity, including women, men, trans and young people, have been left behind in the global response…. We must do more to prevent HIV and other infections among people who use drugs, and ensure that those living with HIV and other infections have access to care, treatment, and support. We need to recognize that the level of criminalization, discrimination, and violence that people who use drugs face, can only result in driving risk-taking behaviors, including in detention settings, excluding them from the social and health support systems they need. We must move toward treating everyone, including people who use drugs, as fellow human beings.”
In the position paper, The Global Fund said that good drug policy can help by:
- ensuring adequate investment in essential, cost-effective health services for people who use drugs, including comprehensive HIV, TB, and sexual and reproductive health services;
- supporting the meaningful participation of people who use drugs in health programs; and
- ensuring that resources are used for programs that minimize health harms and protect human rights, rather than incarceration of large numbers of people who use drugs.
“As UNAIDS, WHO and UNODC have stated,” The Global Fund said, “finding alternatives to incarceration for minor, non-violent drug offenses would greatly lower HIV risk for people who use drugs and improve opportunities for reaching this population with comprehensive HIV services, and the same is true of TB. As a health financing institution that strives to provide the best value for money, we are mindful that this would also free up much needed resources for our collective efforts to end the HIV and TB epidemics.”
The position paper can be downloaded directly in PDF format here.