De los 446 resúmenes de ponencias que contenían los términos “reducción de daños”, “uso de drogas” y “políticas de drogas”, solo se aceptaron seis para su presentación oral y tres para la discusión en una mesa redondaMás información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.

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As advocates, officials, and health care professionals gather in Durban, South Africa this week for the International AIDS Society’s AIDS2016 conference, another group of people have moved out—and not by choice. In an attempt to make Durban appear more attractive to attendees of one of the world’s largest conferences on any global health or development issue, homeless people, drug dealers, and sex workers were removed from the central city. In other words, the very people who are at increased risk of contracting HIV and not receiving treatment are now even more vulnerable, and essentially rendered invisible.

The sanitization of the city set the tone for the conference. For instance, organizations like UNAIDS have called for increased investment in harm reduction and HIV prevention measures for people who use drugs—calls that are echoed around the globe by civil society and activists. And indeed, one of the AIDS2016 conference’s stated objectives is “promoting HIV responses that are supported by and tailored to the needs of at-risk populations or people living with HIV,” including people who use drugs.

Yet people who use drugs are largely ignored inside the conference. What’s more, of the 446 abstracts that contain the keywords “harm reduction,” “drug use,” and “drug policy,” only six were accepted for oral presentation and three for poster discussion—an exceedingly small number considering how important this population is considered by those trying to end AIDS by 2030.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC World Bank Photo Collection