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Unintended consequences: drug policies fuel the HIV epidemic in Russia and Ukraine. A policy report prepared for the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs and national governments.
New York, New York, Open Society Institute, International Harm Reduction Development program, 2003. 16 p.Taking action now to reduce HIV transmission rates and treat those already infected is critical. With the goal of avoiding adverse effects on social welfare and public health, the Russian and Ukrainian governments should reconsider how they interpret international treaties. Policy changes should be made in the following areas: Harm reduction. The governments should play an active role in establishing and supporting a large, strategically located network of harm reduction programs that provide services for IDUs, including needle exchange, HIV transmission education, condom distribution, and access to viable treatment programs such as methadone substitution. Similar services should be available in all prisons. Education. Simple, direct, and dear information about HIV transmission should be made available to all citizens-especially those most at risk. Similarly, society at large should be educated about the realities of drug use and addiction as part of an effort to reduce stigma. Discrimination and law enforcement abuse. Public health and law enforcement authorities should take the lead in eliminating discrimination, official and de facto, toward people with HIV and marginalized risk groups such as drug users. Authorities must no longer condone or ignore harassing and abusive behavior, including physical attacks, arrest quotas, arbitrary searches, detainment without charges, and other violations of due process. HIV-positive people, including IDUs, should be included in all policy discussions related to them in the public health and legal spheres. Legislation. Laws that violate the human rights of people with HIV and at-risk groups should be repealed or restructured to better reflect public health concerns. Moving forward with the above strategies may make it appear that the governments are backing away from the goals and guidelines of the UN drug conventions. They may be criti- cized severely by those who are unable or unwilling to understand that meeting the goals of the conventions, some of which were promulgated more than 40 years ago, is far too great a price to bear for countries in the midst of drug use and HIV epidemics. Governments ultimately have no choice, though, if they hope to maintain any semblance of moral legitimacy among their own people. (excerpt)
Approaching STDs and AIDS on a global scale. Interview with Peter Piot, Associate Director, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Global Programme on AIDS (GPA), World Health Organisation (WHO).
AIDS BULLETIN. 1993 Jul; 2(2):4-5.Dr. Piot became involved with the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Program on AIDS (GPA) through his early involvement as Chairman of the WHO Steering Committee on the Epidemiology of AIDS. He responds to questions about the HIV pandemic. Although researchers realized early on that HIV could be transmitted sexually and suspected that condom use could confer protection against HIV infection as it does against other STDs such as gonorrhea and syphilis, only minimal light was shed to the public on the association of HIV with STDs. The delay in clearly pointing out the association stemmed from professionals' lack of desire to further stigmatize HIV/AIDS by designating it as a STD. Furthermore, many Western hematologists had little interest in STDs, and STD control in many countries tended to be coercive. Regarding the risk of HIV infection, Dr. Piot notes that the presence of a genital ulcer caused by syphilis, chancroid, or herpes increases one's risk 10-20-fold; risk increases 3- to 4-fold where gonorrhea or chlamydia are present. Acknowledging the association between STDs and the risk of contracting HIV and understanding the need to control STDs for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, the WHO's STD program was brought under the auspices of and integrated with the GPA. People, and especially women, who may present at STD clinics for treatment are prime candidates for much needed help in avoiding HIV infection; Dr. Piot notes that unlike men, many women do not realize they are infected with an STD until complications develop. Dr. Piot's recent appointment at GPA means the WHO will increase its focus upon the prevention and treatment of STDs. The WHO favors an integrated program approach. Additionally, the GPA plans to develop a short-list of recommended drugs for treating STDs and hopes to develop ways for developing countries to buy them affordably with help from UNICEF and the World Bank. Finally, Dr. Piot explains that, with some exceptions, the prevalence of STDs is lower in developed countries and, therefore, less of a prevention priority.
Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1988. x, 239 p.The Committee for the Oversight of AIDS Activities presents an update to and review of the progress made since the publication 1 1/2 years ago of Confronting Aids. Chapter 1 discusses the special nature of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) as an incurable fatal infection, striking mainly young adults (particularly homosexuals and intravenous drug users), and clustering in geographic areas, e.g., New York and San Francisco. Chapter 2 states conclusively that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) causes AIDS and that HIV infection leads inevitably to AIDS, that sexual contact and contaminated needles are the main vehicles of transmission, and that the future composition of AIDS patients (62,000 in the US) will be among poor, urban minorities. Chapter 3 discusses the utility of mathematical models in predicting the future course of the epidemic. Chapter 4 discusses the negative impact of discrimination, the importance of education (especially of intravenous drug users), and the need for improved diagnostic tests. It maintains that screening should generally be confidential and voluntary, and mandatory only in the case of blood, tissue, and organ donors. It also suggests that sterile needles be made available to drug addicts. Chapter 5 stresses the special care needs of drug users, children, and the neurologically impaired; discusses the needs and responsibilities of health care providers; and suggests ways of distributing the financial burden of AIDS among private and government facilities. Chapter 6 discusses the nomenclature and reproductive strategy of the virus and the needs for basic research, facilities and funding to develop new drugs and possibly vaccines. Chapter 7 discusses the global nature of the epidemic, the responsibilities of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Program on AIDS, the need for the US to pay for its share of the WHO program, and the special responsibility that the US should assume in view of its resources in scientific personnel and facilities. Chapter 8 recommends the establishment of a national commission on AIDS with advisory responsibility for all aspects of AIDS. There are 4 appendices: Appendix A summarizes the 1986 publication Confronting Aids; Appendix B reprints the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classification scheme for HIV infections; Appendix C is a list of the 60 correspondents who prepared papers for the AIDS Activities Oversight Committee; and Appendix D gives biographical sketches of the Committee members.