Chanting the mantra of harm reduction

About midway through the International AIDS Conference, Dr. Mark Wainberg, the bookish-looking AIDS scientist from Montreal and the meeting’s co-chair, found himself in the thick of a chanting demonstration of prostitutes.

As the sex workers and their supporters, including a statuesque Indian transvestite, shouted out for legalization, Dr. Wainberg shouted along. As they punched the air in defiance, the respected microbiologist punched, too.

At this massive and extraordinary conference, supporting such causes is almost compulsory. As is speaking out for the rights of injection drug addicts, lamenting the plight of the overlooked transsexual and tolerating promiscuity, so long as that multiple-partner sex involves condoms.

I keep telling myself that I will lay off the HR stories for a while, but I can’t stop myself from sharing stories like this. This was the International AIDS Conference and it gives an important peek into who drives drug policy discussions. With the drug warriors and these people dominating drug policy discussions, is there any hope?

Recovering people and loved ones of addicts need to step up to promote humane, recovery-oriented policies. I want injection drug user’s human rights protected too, but a major component of that would be access to recovery and recovery support services.