AIDS Doctors Call for an End to “War on Drugs”

Last modified: September 23, 2013 01:00:02 PM

“You can't end AIDS unless you end the war on drugs. It's dead simple."

Dr. Evan Wood and Dr. Julio Montaner, well-renowned  AIDS specialists from British Columbia, Canada, are joining the growing number of international protesters who claim that the “War on Drugs” is failing to stop the spread of AIDS and is actually a major factor in the disease’s proliferation.

Endorsed by those who support the 2010 Vienna Declaration, which demands that governments write evidence-based drug policies rather than morally or emotionally-based ones, their campaign to raise awareness on the issue among government leaders and urge changes in policy started on July 23, 2012.  The campaign was launched to coincide with an international AIDS conference which is taking place this week in Washington DC and has two targets in particular:  US President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate.  What the doctors want to get across to world leaders is this:  “You can’t end AIDS unless you end the war on drugs. It’s dead simple.”

Dr. Wood and Dr. Montaner are among many well-known names that are calling for change in the government drug policies of several nations, especially those that have draconian drug laws.  Billionaire Richard Branson and the former presidents of Columbia and Brazil are among those who believe the “War on Drugs” is a failure.

Dr. Wood, chair of the Vienna Declaration and lead researcher at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS said to the media: “I think people are really starting to question the war on drugs. I think globally we’re seeing a real shift in terms of public opinion and a recognition that addiction should be treated more as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.”

Dr. Wood’s argument revolves around the fact that while HIV infection rates are falling globally; they are actually increasing in countries that have severe drug laws and aggressive prosecution of drug-related crimes.  This aggressiveness in prosecution helps the spread of HIV/AIDS by forcing intravenous drug users underground and away from medical help which can help protect them from the awful health risks posed by their substance abuse and the use of shared, infected needles.

According to Dr. Wood and Dr. Montaner, evidence gathered by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS shows quite clearly that one third of new HIV cases outside of sub-Saharan Africa are the result of addicts sharing needles, or in other words, intravenous drug use in unsanitary, unhygienic conditions.

Dr. Wood mentioned to the media that copies of the Vienna Declaration of 2010 along with over 23,000 signatures will be delivered to world leaders including the secretary general of the United Nations and further stated that he hoped governments would change laws in order for addicts to seek help and stop spreading the AIDS virus.