The middle of a crossfire: Drug policies and injection drug users during the HIV/AIDS epidemic
Needle-exchange programs (NEPs) have been increasingly utilized in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began in the early 1980s. Safe-injection facilities (SIF) have been established in six nations since the late 1980s as another means to combat HIV/AIDS while also seeking to counsel drug addicts so they can eventually break free from addiction. Both NEPs and SIFs are the products of health professionals and injecting-drug users (IDUs) mobilizing to lobby for policy change. The pattern of diffusion of government-supported or tolerated NEPs across nations was studied to analyze how structural and contextual characteristics of nations could have impeded the collective action that resulted in the establishment of NEPs in most nations and SIFs in six. I utilized a most different systems design and single-country analysis and analyzed data for the years between 1980 and 2006. Data on 18 nations are analyzed; sixteen nations currently have government-tolerated or supported NEPs while six nations have government-tolerated or supported safe-injection facilities. All nations that went as far as establishing SIFs also had previous experience with NEPs and other 'harm reduction' techniques, parliamentary systems of government, and no significant opposition to establishing facilities from the Catholic Church.
0615: Political science