HIV, hepatitis & drug policy reform
This report, “HIV, Hepatitis & Drug Policy Reform” follows the Global Commission’s thematic reports on “The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS” (2012) and “The Negative Impact of the War on Drugs on Public Health: The Hidden Hepatitis C Epidemic” (2013).
Despite a decade-old call for urgent action, current drug control efforts fail, with HIV and hepatitis prevalence persisting among drug users. In 2023, approximately 354 million people around the world are currently living with hepatitis B or C. People who use drugs, especially people who inject drugs, are at a higher risk for blood- borne HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Although there has been some success — for example, the scale-up of antiretroviral treatments that reduced HIV related deaths to their lowest in almost three decades — progress has been uneven and people who use drugs are still left behind. This must change.
Prohibition and criminalization of drug use hinder HIV and hepatitis prevention, escalating risks and obstructing treatment. People who use drugs face disproportionate incarceration, abusive policing, and stigma. Inadequate resources are dedicated to proven harm reduction options while billions are spent on punitive law enforcement measures. Achievable UN targets for ending these epidemics by 2030 exist, but a crucial course correction demands political will to embrace a new approach to drugs. The time to act is now.