Addressing the Syndemic of HIV, Hepatitis C, Overdose, and COVID-19 Among People Who Use Drugs: The Potential Roles for Decriminalization and Safe Supply
Source: Matthew Bonn, Adam Palayew, M.Sc., Sofia Bartlett, Ph.D., Thomas D. Brothers, M.D., Natasha Touesnard, & Mark Tyndall, M.D., Sc.D, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
October 9, 2020
People who use drugs (PWUD) face concurrent public health emergencies from overdoses, HIV, hepatitis C, and COVID-19, leading to an unprecedented syndemic. Responses to PWUD that go beyond treatment—such as decriminalization and providing a safe supply of pharmaceutical-grade drugs—could reduce impacts of this syndemic. Solutions already implemented for COVID-19, such as emergency safe-supply prescribing and providing housing to people experiencing homelessness, must be sustained once COVID-19 is contained. This pandemic is not only a public health crisis but also a chance to develop and maintain equitable and sustainable solutions to the harms associated with the criminalization of drug use.