'Social evils' and harm reduction

The evolving policy environment for human immunodeficiency virus prevention among injection drug users in China and Vietnam

Theodore M. Hammett, Zunyou Wu, Tran Tien Duc, David Stephens, Sheena Sullivan, Wei Liu, Yi Chen, Doan Ngu, Don Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aims: This paper reviews the evolution of government policies in China and Vietnam regarding harm reduction interventions for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention, such as needle/syringe provision and opioid substitution treatment. Methods: The work is based upon the authors' experiences in and observations of these policy developments, as well as relevant government policy documents and legislation. Results: Both countries are experiencing HIV epidemics driven by injection drug use and have maintained generally severe policies towards injection drug users (IDUs). In recent years, however, they have also officially endorsed harm reduction. We sought to understand how and why this apparently surprising policy evolution took place. Factors associated with growing support for harm reduction were similar but not identical in China and Vietnam. These included the emergence of effective 'champions' for such policies, an ethos of pragmatism and receptivity to evidence, growing collaboration across public health, police and other sectors, the influence of contingent events such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and pressure from donors and international organizations to adopt best practice in HIV prevention. Conclusions: Ongoing challenges and lessons learned include the persistence of tensions between drug control and harm reduction that may have negative effects on programs until a fully harmonized policy environment is established. Excessive reliance on law enforcement and forced detoxification will not solve the problems of substance abuse or of HIV among drug users. Ongoing evaluation of harm reduction programs, as well as increased levels of multi-sectoral training, collaboration and support are also needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalAddiction
Volume103
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

Fingerprint

Harm Reduction
Vietnam
Drug Users
China
HIV
Injections
Opiate Substitution Treatment
Training Support
Law Enforcement
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Policy Making
Drug and Narcotic Control
Syringes
Police
Legislation
Practice Guidelines
Substance-Related Disorders
Needles
Public Health
Tissue Donors

Keywords

  • China
  • Harm reduction
  • HIV prevention
  • Injection drug users
  • Policy
  • Vietnam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

'Social evils' and harm reduction : The evolving policy environment for human immunodeficiency virus prevention among injection drug users in China and Vietnam. / Hammett, Theodore M.; Wu, Zunyou; Duc, Tran Tien; Stephens, David; Sullivan, Sheena; Liu, Wei; Chen, Yi; Ngu, Doan; Des Jarlais, Don.

In: Addiction, Vol. 103, No. 1, 01.01.2008, p. 137-145.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hammett, Theodore M. ; Wu, Zunyou ; Duc, Tran Tien ; Stephens, David ; Sullivan, Sheena ; Liu, Wei ; Chen, Yi ; Ngu, Doan ; Des Jarlais, Don. / 'Social evils' and harm reduction : The evolving policy environment for human immunodeficiency virus prevention among injection drug users in China and Vietnam. In: Addiction. 2008 ; Vol. 103, No. 1. pp. 137-145.
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