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After Vienna: The challenges for Quebec

CACTUS Montréal, Point de Repères (Quebec City) and the Association pour la défense des droits et l'inclusion des personnes qui consomment des drogues du Québec

Montreal, November 29, 2010 - On the eve of December 1, 2010, World AIDS Day, we cannot be indifferent and blind to the human rights dimensions of the HIV epidemic. We invite you to attend a press conference on Monday, November 29, 2010, at 1300 Sanguinet Street (Montreal) where representatives of CACTUS Montréal, Point de Repères (Quebec City) and the Association pour la défense des droits et l'inclusion des personnes qui consomment des drogues du Québec, a drug users' advocacy and human rights group, will be heard.

At the 18th International AIDS Conference, held in Vienna in July 2010, the world's leading scientific organizations that deal with HIV issued a declaration calling for major changes in the approach to the control of illicit drugs. The introductory paragraph reads: "The criminalization of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. A full policy reorientation is needed."

"We must ask whether the legislative war on drugs violates the rights of users, increases their vulnerability, and encourages risk-taking that leads to HIV/AIDS infections," says Louis Letellier de Saint Just, president of CACTUS Montréal.

We have data that prove that the enforcement of such legislation has neither made drugs unavailable, nor reduced the prevalence of drug use. But here is what Canadian society has to show for $2.3 billion in annual drug enforcement spending:

- the HIV and Hepatitis C epidemic continues

- people who use drugs are stigmatized

- human rights, including the right to health, are violated

- the health care system is weakened because prevention efforts are thwarted

- taxpayer money is wasted.

We therefore ask that human rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be respected. We call for an end to the oppression of people who use drugs. We demand the opening of safe, supervised injection sites, as stated in Quebec's Public Health Plan and recently supported by an opinion issued by Quebec's public health institute on the suitability of safe injection sites. "It's our responsibility as a front-line community group to make this essential service available to our users, and it's the responsibility of Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services to ensure that these sites are opened as stipulated in Quebec's public health plan," concludes Mario Gagnon, Executive Director of Point de Repères.

For information, please contact Jean François Mary of CACTUS Montréal at 513 836-8211 (cell)

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About the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Since 1992, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ( www.aidslaw.ca ) has been promoting the human rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, in Canada and internationally, through research, legal and policy analysis, education, and community mobilization.  The Legal Network is Canada 's leading advocacy organization working on the legal and human rights issues raised by HIV/AIDS.


Reproduced with permission - "Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network"

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
www.aidslaw.ca


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