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23.11.2007

Criminal prosecution hampering the fight against AIDS

   

Civic groups believe that there is excessive prosecution of drug addicts and that this is hindering efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

At a press conference held in UNIAN on Thursday, Pavlo Skala from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine explained:

“The “threshold” established in law for prosecuting people for unlawful possession of drugs is much lower than in most European countries where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is now under control”.

He believes that amendments to the relevant Ministry of Health Order will make it possible to ensure that people have access to treatment and social services, to reduce the crime level and slow down the spread of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis.

The Head of the All-Ukrainian Association for Harm Reduction Serhiy Botvin said that for each convicted drug dealer there are five drug users.

He believes that the risk of ending up imprisoned forces injecting drug users to isolate themselves, and this makes access to them very difficult in order to carry out measures to avoid HIV and AIDS.  He added that criminal investigations, court examinations and keeping drug addicts behind bars costs the State hundreds of millions of UAH. 

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