Drug Abuse BLOG

Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS

There are various ways by which one can contract the AIDS virus, and one of them is through the sharing of needles by those who inject illegal drugs. At the 18th International AIDS Conference held in Vienna, Austria, drug abuse and its role in the spread of the HIV virus were among the frustrations and issues that were discussed, along with little successes.

A feature on the Los Angeles Times by Evan Wood shared that the bi-annual meeting was attended by HIV experts that consist of thousands of scientists and physicians, as well as activists who are leading the fight against HIV and AIDS. Incidentally, the choice of host city – Vienna – is also rooted in the connection between HIV infection and drug use.

The city, according to the feature, is considered as the “gateway” to what was termed as one of the “most rapidly growing HIV epidemics” in the world. This epidemic is said to be happening among heroin users in Eastern Europe. Statistics that were mentioned by Wood indicate that injecting illegal drugs constitute about one out of three new HIV infections (outside of sub-Saharan Africa), while 70 percent of those who inject illegal drugs contract HIV (in certain areas of Eastern Europe and Central Asia).

Michel Sidibe, the executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), wrote in the medical journal Lancet: “The war on drugs has failed.”

The statement is in reference to the effect that the criminalization of drug abuse has, including the fact that addicts are driven further underground, which in turn leads to unsafe practices such as the sharing of needles.