The 18th International AIDS Conference took place in Vienna from 18 to 23 July 2010. The conference brought together some 20,000 policy makers, people living with HIV, scientists, researchers, clinicians and advocates – all committed to halting the spread of HIV. Many issues were highlighted throughout the conference but there was one clear unifying call to address the criminalisation of key population groups most at risk from HIV – namely sex workers, men who have sex with men and people who use drugs.
In the opening plenary, Anya Sarang, director of the Andrey Rylkov Foundation for Health and Social Justice, gave a rousing address that criticised Russia's drug policy, highlighted the human costs of the war on drugs and called for a drug policy based on human rights and harm reduction.
The Rapporteur’s session provides an overview of the conference highlights.
The Vienna Declaration is the official declaration of AIDS 2010 and calls for drug policies that are based on scientific evidence rather than ideology. The Declaration is a live call and signatures will continue to be collected in the lead up to the next International AIDS Conference that will take place in Washington D.C. in 2012. The Lancet has published the Declaration, launching its latest edition dedicated to drug use, HIV and human rights at AIDS 2010. Sign the Vienna Declaration.
IDPC and Transform Drug Policy Foundation co-hosted the Drug Policy Networking Zone – a busy and dynamic space that was shared with the Harm Reduction and Human Rights Networking Zones. The key message of the Drug Policy Networking Zone was a call to consider the costs of the dominant approach to drug control both in monetary and human terms. The week-long event included lively and varied panel discussions on topics as diverse as law enforcement and harm reduction, advocacy strategies, reform of the UN Drug Control Conventions and the possibilities for a regulated drugs market.
Transform re-launched ‘Blueprint for Regulation’ in two sessions at AIDS 2010, with Steve Rolles looking beyond the issues relating to the criminalisation of users and HIV to the problems created by the illegality of drug production and availability. The British Medical Journal also published a special edition to coincide with AIDS 2010 entitled: 'Drug users and HIV: treat don't punish' and included an article by Steve Rolles on drug policy alternatives.