Medscape Medical News – More than 13,000 clinicians, researchers, and public policy experts have signed a declaration calling for the global decriminalization of drug use and the implementation of evidence-based policies to halt the rampant spread of HIV infection among injecting drug users (IDUs).

Released here at AIDS 2010: XVIII International AIDS Conference, the document, known as the Vienna Declaration, states that in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the spread of HIV is most rapid, infection “can be as high as 70% among people who inject drugs, and in some areas more than 80% of all HIV cases are among this group.” Yet these countries have some of the most punitive antidrug laws in the world.

“The International AIDS Conference is a unique mix of advocacy, activism, and science that you don’t see at other conferences,” Evan Wood, MD, director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia, told Medscape Medical News. Dr. Wood was a coauthor of the Vienna Declaration.

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