How Police Can Arrest the Spread of HIV

Across the globe, HIV rates are climbing among sex workers and people who use drugs. One of the main reasons is that they are criminalized. Too often sex workers and drug users are forced to choose between protecting their health and staying safe from police harassment or arrest.

But a novel approach to law enforcement is changing this, and may prove as critical to HIV prevention as a condom or clean needle. Through partnerships with HIV experts and community groups, police from Kenya to Kyrgyzstan are realizing their role in the fight against HIV.

Above, Daniel Wolfe, director of the Open Society International Harm Reduction Development Program, talks about how police are working to implement harm reduction approaches to HIV prevention with these vulnerable populations.

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I challenge the overgeneralised statement "Across [sic] the globe, HIV rates are climbing among sex workers and people who use drugs. " Reference?

Jamie, could be right it is seen from that point of view, however key affected populations vulnerable and heavily burdened with HIV are sex workers and people who inject drugs. consider that 10% of all new HIV infections are linked to injection drug use going as high as 30 % in Sub Saharan Africa ( 55%-68% among women). More research with data available has it that people who inject drugs have 22 times the rate of HIV infection as the general population in 49 countries. Depending on the context there are still limited access to risk reduction services as recommended by WHO,UNODC and UNAIDS. references available; WHO 2010 Towards Universal Access by 2010, Mathers B et al for the 2009 Reference Group to the UN on HIV and Injection Drug Use 2010, Bowring et al 2011 Assessment of Risk practices and infectious diseases among drug users in Temeke Dar es Salaam Tanzania etc

Thank you, Robert, for confirming that an overgeneralisation was made by the author of this article.

I challenge the first sentence: "Across [sic] the globe, HIV rates are climbing among sex workers and people who use drugs." Where is the evidence for this? Where are the references?

I support the work of Open Society Foundations

Can we have more information on Sex Workers and prevention of HIV methods

To address this we need messages that can help sex workers, needle user the danger of not using condoms, exchanging needles

Sex workers and IDUs need to have Education support

Medecins du Monde has been training thousands of police officers in Tanzania in the past few years. It is true that arrests go down after training and that police officers become aware of the fact that they have the possibility to help people who use drugs instead of arresting them. Unfortunately the effects are limited in time. Therefore continuous retraining and training police officers to train their colleagues are also needed to protect people who use drugs.

Yup Ancella - and I learnt a lot from my visit to MdM. I will be delivering our first training to police in Cape Town next week. Hopefully they will be open to repeated and regular training.

we ready to do work

Rather than criticize, question, or accuse why are there not more forward-thinking people coming up with humane ways to solve one of the world's deadliest problems???

This is a welcome approach, good work for the foundation and a great service to humanity.

Tanzania now days throw four Ngo's who works to the TAPP program we are happy because we gate more support from law enforcement after they attended to the training of harm reduction.

I've been answering the hotline for Sex Workers Anonymous since 1987 and I see the rates climbing for HIV. That's a reference of where "it's coming from".

Some law enforcers in my country pursue sex workers as the most probable source of bribes not for the purpose of mitigating viral infections among the population.

I do no think that mere training the police officers will nudge down their corrupt practice and help in combating the HIV pandemic.

Great work open society foundation#opportunitytoall drug users and sex workers are human being.Zero criminalization of human rights and Zero criminalization of people who use drugs.


The Law Enforcement and HIV Network (LEAHN) is working globally to advocate to and support police in changing cultures and behaviours of police to be supportive of HIV prevention and care. It is a peer-based approach, with police advocating to and educating their colleagues. LEAHN has police Country Focal Points in 16 countries, all of whom are working diligently. Have a look at their work at - and encourage any police you know to do the same, and to join up

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