Observations Yankee Doodling

The myth of an AIDS free world

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5479 (Published 14 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5479

Re: The myth of an AIDS free world

I would like to agree with Douglas Kamerow’s piece on ‘the myth of an AIDS free world’, which was the call at the 19th World AIDS conference that there is still much work to be done to achieve this.

There was little focus at the conference on reducing injecting-related HIV. HIV in people who use drugs is both preventable and treatable by using evidence-based interventions based on science and knowledge. People who use drugs account for a third of all new HIV infections worldwide outside sub-Sahara Africa, globally one in five people who inject are infected with HIV (3 million in 16million) and in countries where injecting drug use is treated as a criminal offence such as Russia, US and China the HIV prevalence in people who use drugs has increased to 37%, 16% and 12% respectively. This is in comparison to an almost stable HIV rate in people who use drugs in the UK of less than 2%. And I could continue…. .

The ‘war on drugs’ is in fact a war on people. In my opinion, for the world to reach the goal of an AIDS-free generation, AIDS strategies must include people who use drugs, and most importantly, decision makers and the rest of the field need to address this group of people with respect, and we should all fight against their discriminisation and criminalisation.

I suggest changing the slogan, popular at the AIDS conference, ‘Criminalise HATE not HIV’ to ‘Criminalise HATE not HIV and people who use drugs’.

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 August 2012
Christine Helen Ford
Clinical Director
13 Victoria Mews, London NW6 6SY