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3 Georgian leaders sign Vienna Declaration, strengthen call for science-based drug policy
Date:7/22/2010

d HIV spread, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, injecting drug use is the primary cause of new HIV infections. In some countries, people who use drugs are threatened with arrest, incarceration and worse, and therefore are reluctant to access the necessary public health services.

"Misguided drug policies fuel the AIDS epidemic and result in violence, increased crime rates and destabilization of entire states yet there is no evidence that they have reduced rates of drug use or drug supply," said AIDS 2010 Chair Dr. Julio Montaner, President of the IAS and Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. "I welcome the endorsement of the Vienna Declaration from these Georgian leaders; it provides great hope for the future in an area of the world being devastated by the HIV and AIDS epidemic."

In much of the world, the current approach to drug policy is ineffective because it neglects proven and evidence-based interventions, while pouring a massive amount of public funds and human resources into expensive and futile enforcement measures. Legal barriers to scientifically proven prevention services such as needle programmes and opioid substitution therapy (OST) mean hundreds of thousands of people become infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) every year. In some areas of the world, the criminalization of people who inject drugs has also resulted in record incarceration rates placing a massive burden on taxpayers. An emphasis on criminalization produces a cycle of disease transmission, breaking homes and destroying livelihoods.

"Georgia is at risk of rising HIV rates due to epidemics in neighboring countries and a high rate of injection drug use, so it is gratifying to see this type of leadership and deep support for evidence-based policy-making in this area," said Dr. Evan Wood, the chair of the Vienna Declaration writing committee and founder of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP).

The Vienna Decla
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Contact: Michael Kessler
mkessler@ya.com
34-655-792-699
International AIDS Society
Source:Eurekalert

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