Governments around the world have failed in their war on drugs and fuelled a pandemic in HIV, a leading think tank has said. The Global Commission on Drug Policy criticised nations for imprisoning non-violent drug users and for driving them away from public health services.
In its report, The War On Drugs And HIV/AIDS - How The Criminalisation Of Drug Use Fuels The Global Pandemic, the commission condemns "the remarkable failure of drug law enforcement policies" in cutting the world drug supply.
The global supply of illicit opiates, such as heroin, has risen by more than 380% in recent decades, said the commission.
The report's authors praise countries where "addiction is treated as a health issue" such as Australia, Portugal and Switzerland, where newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among drug users.
But the authors criticised nations including America, China, Russia and Thailand, which have "ignored scientific evidence and resisted the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programmes - with devastating consequences," they said.
The commissioners also stressed the drug war's contribution to the growth of organised crime and spelt out how the drug war fuelled the HIV pandemic.
They said the fear of arrest was driving drug users underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high-risk environments.
Restrictions on the provision of sterile syringes to drug users also result in increased syringe sharing, the commissioners added.
They also claim that limited public funds are wasted on harmful and ineffective drug law enforcement efforts instead of being invested in proven HIV prevention strategies.