“The Kenyan government will begin distributing free syringes and needles to more than 50,000 [injection] drug users (IDUs) across the country in the next month,” PlusNews reports, adding, “Policy-makers and experts said the decision was reached following concerns over the spread of HIV and other blood-borne illnesses through injection drug use.” “[Injection] drug use is responsible for close to four percent of national HIV infections and 17 percent of new infections in Coast Province annually, according to government statistics,” according to the news service. “The government aims to distribute some eight million needles and syringes to drug users countrywide once the program is rolled out and will also encourage HIV testing, provide antiretroviral drugs, condoms, and medication for tuberculosis, the most commonly found co-infection with HIV” the news service writes (6/7).
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).
“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” â€“ “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.
Ahead of World AIDS Day, the International Federation of the Red Cross on Friday released a report (.pdf) calling for governments around the world to do more to help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among populations of injecting drug users (IDUs), the Associated Press reports (Heilprin, 11/25).
Reuters Examines How Harm Reduction Policies In Switzerland Could Serve As Model For Reducing Spread Of HIV/AIDS Among IDUs
“Switzerland’s innovative policy of providing drug addicts with free methadone and clean needles has greatly reduced deaths while cutting crime rates and should serve as a global model, health experts said on Monday,” Reuters reports in an article that examines the outcomes resulting from drug policy reform in the country (Nebehay, 10/25).
Ahead of the International AIDS Conference, scheduled to kick off July 18, health experts on Monday called for a rethinking of international drug policies to incorporate greater scientific evidence and increase access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, the Associated Press reports (6/28).
Ahead of the final day of the International AIDS Conference-AIDS 2010 on Friday, a New York Times analysis piece reports that growing concerns over funding for HIV/AIDS have dominated the focus of the conference. According to the newspaper, this has affected “organizers’ efforts to get publicity for the Vienna Declaration, which calls for drug users to be spared arrest and offered clean needles, methadone and treatment if they have AIDS.”
AIDS 2010 Studies, Releases: Criminalization, Discrimination Of High-Risk Groups; Test-And-Treat; UNAIDS Launches HIV Prevention Commission
The criminalization of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in Asia is holding back efforts to contain HIV/AIDS in the region, according to a report presented Wednesday by the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) and Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health at the International AIDS Conference-AIDS 2010, VOA News reports. The report “linked the criminalization of homosexual behavior to an increase in the infection rate of HIV and AIDS in Asia,” the news service writes (Dewan, 7/21).
Thousands of HIV/AIDS advocates “marched through Vienna’s city centre on Tuesday evening, demanding more respect for human rights in the fight against HIV,” Agence France-Presse reports.