Posted on May 17, 2017
"Attorney General Jeff Sessions jump-started the war on drugs in a recent memo to federal prosecutors, ordering them to “charge and pursue” the toughest penalties possible, even for low-level offenses.
The new policy is expected to increase the prison population and punish minority groups, particularly African Americans, that have been disproportionately subjected to mandatory minimums for minor drug crimes.
But there’s a looming, and less obvious, side effect of this new directive: The White House’s “tough on crime” approach is almost certainly going to exacerbate the spread of infectious diseases like HIV.
In a new systematic review of 106 studies on criminalization and HIV, published this week in The Lancet HIV, researchers found the vast majority of studies (more than 80 percent) show criminalization is associated with harmful effects for those targeted by the laws as well as their communities: increasing drug use, increasing the use of shared needles for drug injections, and driving up HIV infections, among other troubling effects."