War on Drugs in Fueling a Hepatitis C Pandemic, Says Global Commission on Drugs


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According to the Global Commission on Drug Policy the war on drugs is fueling a hepatitis C pandemic.

From the BBC:

The Commission estimated that of 16 million people worldwide who inject drugs, 10 million are living with hepatitis C.

This puts them at risk of fatal and debilitating liver disease.

The Global Commission called on governments to decriminalise drug use and provide schemes, such as those which give access to sterile needles, to halt the spread of the disease.

The group, which includes seven former presidents, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan and other world leaders, has previously linked the "failed" war on drugs with the spread of HIV.

In its latest report it says in some countries with the harshest drug policies more than 90% of people who inject drugs are living with hepatitis C.

One of the commissioners and former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss said, "The war on drugs is a war on common sense," and, "Repressive drug policies are ineffective, violate basic human rights, generate violence and expose individuals and communities to unnecessary risks."

It is alarming that 10 million of the estimated 16 million people who inject drugs worldwide are living with hepatitis C. Thankfully, the Portuguese drug policy of decriminalization provides an example of a drug policy that does reduce hepatitis C infections. 

Of course, adopting a drug policy similar to Portugal's would mean abandoning the idea that people who take currently illegal drugs should be treated like criminals, something that most of the world's policymakers are unfortunately not ready to concede.