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Global War on Drugs Takes Devastating Toll on Human Lives, Advocates Say
Date:3/5/2009

e money, then they will arrest us and beat us without any reason."

Their stories are among many accounts in the OSI report that vividly document the ways in which drug control practices violate human rights and undermine HIV prevention efforts. In Mexico and India, evidence shows that fear of police abuse or incarceration discourages drug users from carrying sterile injection equipment, and leads to unsafe injection practices. In Indonesia, where 42.5 percent of injection drug users are reported to be HIV-positive, it is illegal to carry syringes without a prescription, and drug users report both physical and psychological torture, extortion, and draconian prison terms. Incarceration can also lead to severe health consequences for people who are addicted to drugs. For example, in India, drug users report up to 30 inmates sharing one syringe in detention, where drugs are widely available but access to clean injection equipment is not.

Without health programs, even successful efforts to reduce cultivation of opium poppy can accelerate HIV infection. In Burma and Pakistan, for example, scarcity of opium and heroin have led to price increases, and caused drug users to switch from inhalation to injection as a more efficient (and more dangerous) mode of administration. Rates of HIV among drug users in these regions are on the rise.

Many countries worldwide require people who access drug treatment centers or who are arrested for drug use to be registered in government databases. This deters people from seeking addiction treatment, and results in routine breaches of confidentiality and further police abuse. In China, people who receive prescription medication for addiction treatment are registered as drug users -- even if they have not used illegal drugs in years -- and face arrest and compulsory urine testing any time they have to show their identification card, such as when
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SOURCE Open Society Institute
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