I support the Vienna Declaration because HIV infection among illicit drug users has reached epidemic levels in many regions across the world. As such, policies that recognize and respond effectively to this challenge must immediately be implemented.
As the International AIDS Conference held this past week in Vienna has demonstrated, there exists a vast scientific literature detailing the likely effects of current drug policy approaches. Indeed, scientists are now in a position to speak confidently regarding the limitations of drug prohibition in reducing drug supply and demand, and on the effects of “war on drugs” approaches on rates of HIV infection and other negative health outcomes among drug users.
The mission of the International AIDS Society is to apply scientific evidence and best practice at every level of the HIV response. One critical aspect of this task is ensuring that drug users are provided with appropriate treatment for HIV and drug dependence, and that governments prioritize evidence-informed public health approaches to addressing the challenges posed by drug use.
By joining with me in endorsing the Vienna Declaration, you will tell policymakers at all levels know that we will no longer accept misguided policies that perpetuate the poor health and inequity of millions of people across the world.
Dr. Elly Katabira is President of the International AIDS Society and Professor of Medicine and former Deputy Dean for Research at the School of Medicine at Makerere University in Uganda.