Since 2000, there have been an increasing number of new HIV infections. The AIDS epidemic in Indonesia is growing at the fastest rate in Asia. The Ministry of Health estimates that Indonesia will have almost twice the number of people living with HIV and AIDS in 2014 as compared to 2008, rising from an estimated 227.700 to 501.400. People living with HIV and AIDS are mostly from key populations that vulnerable to HIV transmission such as sex workers. Half of the total people living with HIV, about 52.4%, are s, so there is a strong connection between drug policy and increasing number of HIV infections. One of the States that is considered to have an effective drug policy is Switzerland. In the late 1980s, the numbers of people with HIV were greatly increased along with an increasing number of injecting drug users but it has been reduced by over 50 percent in 10 years. While Indonesia faces an increasing number of people living with HIV, Switzerland proves that their policy in drugs could lower the infections. So, there are some differences in drug policy between Indonesia and Switzerland.
Firstly, Indonesia and Switzerland have different perspective towards illicit drugs. Indonesia has embraced the so-called “war on drugs” which criminalizes drug users. Drug users tend to get imprisonment and they are seen as criminals. However, in Switzerland, the State sees drug addiction as health problem. Switzerland prefers to use “harm reduction” to prevent HIV transmission by rehabilitation, low-threshold methadone treatment and providing sterile syringe instead of imprisonment.
Secondly, Indonesia and Switzerland have different policies about cannabis. In Indonesia, cannabis, heroin, amphetamine, cocaine and other drugs classified as Type 1 will be punished by the same sentencing. However in Switzerland, “possession of cannabis is considered as a minor misdemeanor that will not go on a person’s criminal record. Anyone found with up to 10 grams of the substance will be able to avoid all formal proceedings, instead paying an on-the-spot fine of CHF 100.”
Finally, Indonesia and Switzerland are slightly different in treating drug addiction. Both of these countries use low-threshold methadone for heroin addiction. Switzerland also uses heroin-assisted therapy (HAT) which uses the heroin itself as therapy. This kind of treatment does not exist in Indonesia. At the beginning of the trial of this treatment, in 1990, government of Switzerland was met with a torrent of cricism especially from International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for its “controversial experiment” in legalizing heroin as therapy. However, WHO undertook an evaluation of this policy. The result was quite surprising because WHO concluded that HAT could improve health and social functioning of the participants in treatment programs.
It can be seen that there is currently a huge difference in on drug policy between Indonesia and Switzerland. Switzerland is willing to experiment at the border of the law and to be guided by an experimental outlook; this is something Indonesia could learn from. As a result of decriminalizing drug users, the number of HIV infections and death because of HIV have decreased dramatically in Switzerland. Indonesia should consider reforming its drug policy in a way which is in accordance with the needs of the community and which would also reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
 UNAIDS, Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, 2008.
National HIV and AIDS Strategy and Action Plan of Indonesia 2010-2014, pg. 11.
Ibid., pg. 14.
Open Society Foundations, “From the Mountaintops: What the World Can Learn from Drug Policy Change in Switzerland”, 2010, pg. 7.
Swiss Drug Policy Shoud Serve as Model:Experts, http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/10/25/us-swiss-drugs-idUSTRE69O3VI20101025.html.
Switzerland Changes Law to Decriminalise Marijuana Possession, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/switzerland-changes-law-to-decriminalised-marijuana-possession-8856308.html.
Op.cit., Open Society Foundations, pg. 22.