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February 2013 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

The February issue of the WHO Bulletin features an editorial on the “scal[e] up [of] opioid dependence treatment in low- and middle-income settings, a public health news roundup, a systematic review of mortality among people who inject drugs, and a perspective piece on managing tuberculosis in people who use injection…

Placing Issue Of HIV Among Drug Users On Global Agenda

“In wide-ranging opening remarks to the current session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, the Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov placed HIV and drug use at the heart of the global agenda,” UNAIDS reports in an article on its webpage. “Addressing the…

U.S. Visa Policies Kept Sex Workers, Drug Users From Participating In AIDS 2012

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines how the “U.S. travel bans on people involved in sex work and people who have used illegal drugs … kept many of the people at highest risk from coming to the [XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)]” in Washington, D.C., last month. “The result, observers said afterward, was a larger conference with fewer sex workers than had brought their first-hand experiences and concerns to Vienna and Mexico City,” according to the blog. Carlos Laudari, senior technical adviser for HIV AIDS prevention at Pathfinder, “and others said those in absentia were not the only ones disempowered; the loss of sex worker and drug user input on how to realize the goals of treatment as prevention, on barriers to funding, testing, health care access, and for that matter, on the difference between sex work and sex trafficking — commonly, and erroneously equated — weakened the dialogue and the action they were intended to inform,” the blog writes and quotes several other advocates (Barton, 8/8).

IRIN Examines Administration Of Methadone As Treatment For People Who Inject Drugs In Bangladesh

“Methadone treatment is proving to be the most efficient way to wean people in Bangladesh from addiction to buprenorphine, a pharmaceutical drug, and health experts say it should be expanded to reach thousands more drug users to prevent the spread of HIV,” IRIN reports. The news service notes that “illegal use of pharmaceutical substances, mostly buprenorphine, is on the rise” in the country. “Buprenorphine was intended to be used to wean injecting drug users, also known as people who inject drugs (PWID), from narcotics like heroin, but has itself become a substance of addiction, with users injecting a liquid form of it,” the news service notes, adding, “Methadone, a pain reliever, suppresses withdrawal symptoms and blocks craving.”

Russia Should Abandon ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Approach To Drug Use And Implement Proven Prevention Strategies

Why have effective, “simple tools such as Medication Assisted Therapy (methadone, buprenorphine) and clean needle-exchange services” — methods that are “very effective in decreasing drug abuse and reducing risk of infection with HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases” – “had so little impact on the policies and programs of the Russian Federation?” Bertrand Audoin, executive director of the International AIDS Society, and Chris Beyrer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, write in this New York Times opinion piece. With an “estimated number of injecting drug users [at] 1.8 million, and the estimated number of opiate users exceed[ing] 1.6 million,” and more than one million people living with HIV, “Russia now accounts for two thirds of the Eastern Europe and Central Asian HIV epidemic, the fastest growing in the world,” they write.

U.S. Delegation Participates In Commission On Narcotic Drugs

In this post in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, Alyce Ahn, a foreign affairs officer in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) Office of Anticrime Programs, writes about the U.S. delegation’s participation last week in the 55th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). She outlines the delegation’s work at the conference, concluding, “We’re already beginning to see operational results from the CND. One country noted that, in response to a resolution, it plans to look into using a life-saving drug that can help prevent deaths from overdose. For its part, the United States looks forward to working with other states, as well as [the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)], in various joint projects and regional counter-narcotics initiatives addressed in the resolutions” (3/19).

Cuts To Health Budget Lead To Increases In HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB Incidence In Greece

“The savage cuts to Greece’s health service budget have led to a sharp rise in HIV/AIDS and malaria in the beleaguered nation, said a leading aid organization on Thursday,” the Guardian’s “News Blog” reports. “The incidence of HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250 percent in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to” Reveka Papadopoulos, “the head of Medecins Sans Frontieres [MSF] Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since … the 1970s,” the blog notes.

Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Study Finds Level Of HIV Services For IDUs ‘Is Poor In Many Countries’ A Lancet study performed a systematic review of HIV prevention and treatment services targeting injecting drug users (IDUs) globally based on the availability of “core interventions for IDUs: needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), opioid substitution therapy (OST) and other drug…

U.N. Official Addresses Increasing Drug Addiction In Developing Countries

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Monday warned of an impending “health disaster facing developing countries if wealthy nations fail to control drugs,” the Agence France-Presse reports. During a speech delivered in Vienna, UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costas pointed to “increasing use of heroin in East Africa, cocaine in West Africa, and synthetic drugs in the Middle East and South East Asia as warning signs” of a growing drug problem in impoverished nations (3/8).

Study Finds Most HIV Prevention, Treatment, Care Efforts Overlook IDUs

A systematic review of HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users (IDUs) throughout the world published Monday in the journal Lancet found that international efforts to fight the disease are largely overlooking this population, the Australian Associated Press/Sydney Morning Herald reports (Rose, 3/1).