This paper reviews the research literature of relevance to Canada on the impact of law enforcement practices on HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment for people who use illegal drugs. The authors interpret “HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment” broadly to include not only access to services but the ability of individuals who use drugs to engage in practices that reduce drug-related harm, including HIV transmission.

For the purposes of this paper, they consider the impact of national and provincial/state laws and municipal bylaws or regulations, as well as the impact of policing at a local level. Global drug control measures are beyond the scope of this paper, though they may have local or national impact. This paper examines ways in which policing practices affect measures to reduce the harms associated with the use of illegal drugs and to protect and promote the health of people who use them.

Based on the available evidence and a consideration of Canada’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all people in Canada, this document offers recommendations for legislative and policy reforms. In addition to these reforms, the authors suggest other action needed to ensure the effective functioning of, and access to, the harm reduction measures that are supposed to represent a core element of Canada’s response to both problematic substance use and HIV/AIDS.