Press Release  | 07/05/2002

Drug Policies = Death

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HIV/AIDS Crisis In Central And Eastern Europe Is Direct Result of National Drug Laws/Policies
Report Released at 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona Shows that Policy Change is Needed to Address Leading Cause of New HIV Infections in Region

A new study published today by The Drug Law and Health Policy Network stresses that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Central and Eastern Europe is driven primarily by injection drug use - not sexual intercourse. The Report, Drug Policies = Death: HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe, finds no experts disagreeing that injection drug use is responsible for more than 60% of all new HIV transmissions in Eastern Europe and is the single leading cause of new infections in Central Europe.

The Report notes, however, that this crisis can be stopped - and reversed. "Unsafe injection practices that cause the spread of HIV are the direct result of governmental laws and practices that prevent drug users from safely accessing and using sterile syringes," said Kasia Malinowska-Sempruch, head of the International Harm Reduction Development Program. The epidemic is also fueled by policies that prevent drug users from obtaining effective drug treatment, especially methadone maintenance treatment and other narcotic replacement therapies.

The Report notes that Governments can stem the HIV/AIDS crisis by:

  • Supporting Harm Reduction measures for drug users
  • Ensuring that drug users have access to sterile syringes free from police harassment
  • Establishing and expanding drug treatment, especially methadone treatment, for drug-dependent persons
  • Stopping prison overcrowding by not incarcerating non-violent drug users and other nonviolent persons at risk of HIV.
  • These measures are cost-effective health interventions proven to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The Report Drug Policies = Death: HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe, and information about the laws, policies, and infectious diseases in more than a dozen countries in this region, is available in pdf format.


Scott Burris at 610-864-8764 or Tony Newman at 917-969-3571

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