Injection Drug Use and HIV/AIDS: Legal and Ethical Issues

Seven priority issues have been analyzed:

  • What is the impact of the current legal status of drugs and drug use on efforts to prevent HIV infection among injection drug users and on the provision of care, treatment, and support to drug users with HIV/AIDS? What are alternatives to the current legal regime on drugs and drug use? What legal and ethical issues are raised?
  • What legal and ethical issues arise in circumstances in which illegal drug use is permitted in the course of providing health care and social services – primary health care, community clinics, pharmacy services, residential care, palliative care, housing services – to drug users?
  • Is it legal and ethical to make cessation of drug use a condition for treatment of a drug user? Is it legal and ethical to withhold antiretroviral drugs from HIV-positive drug users?
  • What legal and ethical issues arise in the context of prescribing opiates and controlled stimulants to drug users in Canada?
  • What legal and ethical issues are raised by (a) the absence of clinical trials on the impact of illegal drugs on the immune system; (b) the absence of research on the interactions between HIV/AIDS drugs and illegal drugs; and (c) the exclusion of drug users from clinical trials involving HIV/AIDS drugs?
  • What are the legal and ethical grounds for ensuring that health-care providers, drug users, and the general public have accurate and complete information on illegal drugs and their effects?
  • What legal and ethical considerations should be taken into account when implementing needle exchange and methadone maintenance programs directed at reducing the harms from drug use?

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