New National Drug Control Strategy Release: HIV-related Impact

Content From: Harold PhillipsPublished: April 21, 20222 min read

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Harold Phillips
Harold Phillips
Photo by Keith Mumma/Kalamazoo College

The 2022 National Drug Control Strategy was released on April 21, 2022. Over the course of a year, it was developed through requests for written consultations from more than 2,000 external stakeholders, including the entirety of the U.S. Congress; all 50 Governors; and hundreds of advocates representing law enforcement, public health, and Tribal communities.

This new Strategy is the first ever to emphasize working directly with people who use drugs to prevent overdose and infectious disease transmissions, improve their physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and offer flexible options for accessing medical care and substance use treatment. This evidence-based approach builds trust and engagement with people at risk for an overdose and is known as harm reduction.

The Strategy breaks ground and proposes bold, targeted, and consequential actions to bend the curve on overdose deaths in the immediate term and reduce drug use and its consequences in the long term. These actions are grouped around eight thematic areas. Two of these action areas are highlighted below and are relevant to those working on HIV-related issues:

  • Helping people who use drugs access the services they need to stay alive long enough to enter treatment, the Biden-Harris Administration will focus on three priority harm reduction interventions:
  • Expanding access to the overdose reversal medication naloxone, which is a cost-effective tool that has the most potential to save lives today.
  • Ensuring people who use drugs can access drug testing strips so they can detect the presence of fentanyl and other dangerous substances in their supply.
  • Supporting syringe services programs that facilitate linkages to substance use treatment and prevent the spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
  • Supporting people with undiagnosed or untreated substance use disorders who too often end up interacting with the justice system, creating severe consequences for individuals, their families and communities and society. Furthermore, arrest and incarceration for crimes related to substance use and possession disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The National Drug Control Strategy aligns with the Administration’s emphasis on equity and breaks new ground by including a criminal justice chapter that directs agencies to ensure that non-violent offenders in incarcerated settings, as well as those who re-enter society do not overdose and instead have access to the continuum of services and support, thereby removing unnecessary barriers to treatment.

This Strategy also aligns with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. For people experiencing substance use disorder and those at risk for and with HIV, these strategies call for effective programs, policies, and services to improve public health and end both the opioid and HIV epidemics.

For more information on the new National Drug Control Strategy, click here.