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IAS urges Russian government to radically reassess counterproductive drug policies
Date:6/27/2011

28 June 2011. Geneva, Switzerland. As Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the Russian state Duma, calls for a "total war on drugs" to tackle Russia's growing drug problem, the International AIDS Society (IAS) urges the Russian government to radically reassess its approach to drug policy, and to accept that the war on drugs has failed dramatically from both a law enforcement and a public health perspective.

Under new laws being drawn up by the Russian parliament, injecting drug users would be forced into treatment or jailed, while drug dealers would be sent to forced labour camps. These new measures contradict the recommendations of the recent report by the Global Commission on Drugs Policy, which clearly states that there must be a shift away from criminalizing drugs and incarcerating those who use them, and which calls on policy makers to "end the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others."

These new measures also ignore existing solid scientific evidence demonstrating that harm reduction programmes, including Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST), are effective in keeping injecting drug users (IDUs) in treatment programmes, reducing risky behaviors and mitigating a wide range of health and social consequences of drug dependence.

Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injecting drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV. In some areas of rapid HIV spread, such as in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, injecting drug use is the primary cause of new HIV infections. Legal barriers to scientifically proven prevention services such as needle and syringe programs and opioid substitution therapy (OST) mean hundreds of thousands of people become infected with HIV and Hepatitis C every year. The effectiveness of these programmes is well-documented, though access to such interventions is often limited in those locations where HIV is spreading most rapidly. According to vario
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Contact: Lindsey Rodger
lindsey.rodger@iasociety.org
International AIDS Society
Source:Eurekalert

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