Women who use drugs, and women incarcerated and formerly incarcerated for drug offenses, face high levels of stigma, discrimination and violence, as they are seen as defying their assigned roles in society as mothers and caregivers. Women who use drugs face daunting barriers in accessing harm reduction and treatment services, and gender-sensitive programs remain an exception rather than the norm. As a result, they are at higher risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C, especially while incarcerated. Formerly incarcerated women face significant obstacles in rebuilding their lives. From the time of their arrest until their release, women’s— especially trans women’s—journeys through the criminal legal system are marked by experiences of systemic violence, discrimination, and trauma. This side event will discuss the most pressing issues faced by women who use drugs and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, with accounts of lived experiences from the United States and Mexico.

Event recording available in English and Spanish.