Countries that offer treatments for intravenous drug users manage to reduce the incidence of HIV infection
In North America and Western Europe, HIV infection is mainly transmitted between homosexuals. In Africa, the main route of transmission is heterosexual, but in many countries, especially Russia and Eastern Europe, and in many Asian countries where there is widespread opium consumption, the main risk is through intravenous drug use.
According to Michel Sidibé, director of UNAIDS, the specialised WHO agenda in the fight against AIDS, 1.7 million of the 12 million individuals who inject drugs are infected. It appears therefore that lifting intravenous drug users out of their ignorance and referring them to centres specialising in the prevention of HIV infection is a necessary preventive measure.
Worldwide, intravenous drug users are 28 times more likely to become infected with HIV than non-users.
In the United States, the use of marijuana is legal in four states, while heroin is banned throughout the country. In relation to the use of syringes to inject the drug, 30 states permit syringe exchange, while 20 do not.
The ban on the use of marijuana in the United States contrasts with the law voted by the Swiss people in 2008, who consider heroin as a medical problem, while the use of marijuana is legal.
In other words, the situation with respect to the legalisation of drugs differs among countries, and even among states within the United States. However, what does appear to have been shown is that countries that reduce sentences and offer treatments for drug users manage to reduce the incidence of HIV infection. Accordingly, it seems that this policy should be taken into account when trying to reduce spread of the virus, especially in countries where intravenous drug use continues to be the leading cause of HIV infections (The New York Times, 27-X-2015, page 3).