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Clin Infect Dis. 2003 Dec 15;37 Suppl 5:S366-71.

Drug use, harm reduction, and health policies in Argentina: obstacles and new perspectives.

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  • 1Drug Abuse and AIDS Advanced Studies Center of the Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina.


High human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) incidence among injection drug users (IDUs) shows the failure of traditional health policies. The preference of IDUs for injected cocaine exposes them to high risks for contracting HIV because of the frequency of drug use. The correlation of poverty with the selling of drugs, especially the so-called "drugs of poverty"--freebase cocaine and crack--is a consequence of prohibitions against drug use and of urban unemployment. In Argentina, "zero-tolerance" approaches and punishment for personal drug use tend to exclude IDUs from the country's health care system. A historical perspective is presented regarding approaches to the prevention of HIV/AIDS and harm reduction in Latin America and Argentina, where, despite isolated efforts, IDUs had no free access to sterile needles until the end of the 1990s. We present the impact of programs and campaigns of the Argentinean Harm Reduction Association, showing how and why, even with obstacles, harm reduction is possible and necessary.

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