We can’t end AIDS until we end the war on drugs
- By Richard Branson -
- Jul 23, 2012
The International AIDS Conference, the world’s largest gathering of HIV/AIDS experts and activists, is taking place this week in Washington DC.
One of the clear messages of the Conference is that criminalisation of drug use is fuelling the global HIV/ AIDS pandemic. It is the perfect opportunity for leaders around the globe to begin treating drugs as a health issue not a criminal problem.
Last month The Global Commission on Drug Policy released a groundbreaking new report that detailed how the global war on drugs is driving the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs.
Dr. Michel Kazatchikine, former Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, will present the report’s findings at the 2012 International AIDS Conference.
He said: “Based on the evidence highlighted in our report, we know that countries that treat addiction as a health issue are winning the fight against HIV. On the other hand, the countries that have ignored scientific evidence and continue to resist the implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention programs are suffering devastating consequences.”
The event is being held in the US for the first time in 22 years, since President Obama lifted a longstanding travel ban for people living with HIV in 2010. Along with more than 20 CEOs from leading companies, I have signed a pledge to oppose HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence, saying that such laws and policies are discriminatory.
According to the latest report on the pandemic released by UNAIDS, eight million people today have access to life saving treatment but this only covers about half the people in need and last year 2.5 million people were newly infected. As a global community we’ve made tremendous progress but governments, businesses and the social sector must continue to ramp up efforts if we’re going to ensure an AIDS-free generation.
We can’t end AIDS until we end the war on drugs. Isn’t it time our leaders for our leaders to be brave and take action?
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group