World AIDS Day
“By denying people who use drugs access to proven, effective HIV prevention, care, and treatment services ... at least one million people living with HIV/AIDS [are] going without adequate treatment to address moderate to severe pain.” (HRW/IHRA briefing paper)
World AIDS Day is a day of global focus on HIV/AIDS. One of the world's most deadly diseases, 34 million people live with HIV, of whom two million die every year. 2.7 million will become infected.
Drug users are among some of the most marginalised communities of people living with HIV/AIDS, and are denied education, health care and support.
- You are as likely to be infected with HIV through sharing needles as having unprotected anal sex.1
- Outside of Sub-Saharan Africa, 30% of new HIV infections are due to injection drug use.
- In Central Europe and Eastern Europe and Asia, injection drug is is the main cause of the HIV epidemic.
- A survey of drug users in five Russian cities, found 40% did not carry their own injection equipment, in part out of fear of attracting police attention.
1. 0.67 as opposed to 0.81 infections per 10,000 exposures. (Combining both insertive and receptive statistics).
- "World AIDS Day 2011" - A very easy and simple briefing on World AIDS Day by the Minnesota Department of Health.
- "World AIDS Day: Punitive Drug Laws, Policing Practices Impede HIV/AIDS Response" - An article by Human Rights Watch on punitive drug laws and how these cause rises in HIV infections.
- "Drug paraphernalia and UK law" - A good briefing from Exchange Supplies on how UK drug laws affect harm reduction efforts.
- "World AIDS day and drug users - data!" - Some stats on HIV and drug use: "An estimated five million people have become infected with HIV through injection drug use (IDU) worldwide."
- "Perspective: To Prevent AIDS in Russia, Drug Addicts Need Care" - An article by Time on how we should be taking care of Russia's drug addicts,
Actions you can take, right now
- Educate yourself about drug use and HIV/AIDS. The links above have lots of detailed information. Make sure you then talk to a friend about it!
- Write to your MP to lobby for the repeal of “Section 9a” here. Section 9a of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 prevents the distribution of “drug paraphernalia”, with certain exemptions. Drug treatments services are currently banned from giving foil to drug users to encourage them to smoke rather than inject, a much safer way of using drugs. Talking points are available here, and if you do get a response, let us know here.
- Buy a red ribbon. These are available from the National AIDS Trust website and most town centres on the weekends around World AIDS Day. By buying and displaying a ribbon, you can contribute a little to supporting people with HIV/AIDs and strike up conversations with people wearing them about why that's important.
- Print off some copies of our briefing document and give them to your local HIV/AIDS groups. We have a non-hyperlinked version here. Got a student group near you, like Student Stop AIDS? Involved in a local support group? Make contact. :)
- Join our national newsletter. The war on drugs users is fought all year round and to eradicate AIDS we need to campaign all year round. Sign up here for up-to-date information on the drug policy world and for ongoing actions and ways that you can get involved.
The International Red Cross has put together this video regarding HIV and injecting drug users: