Via The Globe and Mail: Canadian AIDS doctors urge Obama, Romney to end war on drugs. Excerpt:
Two prominent Canadian doctors have joined an international campaign calling on world leaders to stop the spread of AIDS by ending the so-called war on drugs.
Their advertising campaign is being launched today and is endorsed by supporters of the 2010 Vienna Declaration, which urges governments to write evidence-based drug policies.
The campaign has a specific message for U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, “You can’t end AIDS unless you end the war on drugs. It’s dead simple.”
Among those asking world leaders to show “leadership,” “courage” and “to do the right thing” are British billionaire Richard Branson, the former presidents of Brazil and Colombia, and B.C.-based AIDS specialists doctors, Evan Wood and Julio Montaner.
The campaign is being launched as delegates meet this week at a major international AIDS conference in Washington.
“I think people are really starting to question the war on drugs,” said Dr. Wood, lead researcher at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and chair of the Vienna Declaration.
“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 said that while HIV infection rates are falling around the globe, the number of cases appears to be rising in countries with aggressive policies for prosecuting drug related crimes.
He argues the war on drugs actually helps spread HIV in several ways.
It often forces addicts into hiding and out of the reach of health officials who can help protect them from the terrible dangers posed by intravenous drug use, he said.
The data clearly shows, he added, that the HIV virus is spreading among prison inmates who mainline drugs.
Injection drug use accounts for one-third of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa, according to the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.
The centres estimate there are currently 34 million people worldwide living with HIV.