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British Columbia’s ‘Treatment-As-Prevention Strategy’ Helping To Reduce HIV/AIDS Cases, Deaths

“New HIV cases and AIDS deaths are both going steadily down in British Columbia, according to data released last week,” the New York Times reports. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said, “We’re particularly pleased to see that our treatment-as-prevention strategy has taken off big-time,” the newspaper notes, adding that the strategy, which aggressively identifies and treats people with HIV, “lowers by 96 percent the chances that they will infect others.” The New York Times writes, “Montaner said he is frustrated that rich countries will not donate enough money to roll out the strategy in poor countries with huge HIV epidemics” (McNeil, 1/2).

Russia Will Not Use HIV Spending To Fund Needle Exchange, Methadone Therapy, Reuters Reports

Though Russia is doubling its budget for HIV in 2012 over 2010 levels, “no money will go to such internationally recognized efforts as needle exchanges” and methadone replacement therapy, Reuters reports. “Moscow doesn’t believe these approaches help slow the spread of HIV/AIDS,” and “[s]ome health workers and global HIV authorities are angered and baffled by Russia’s approach, which they say will only aggravate the problem,” the news service writes. The article examines how government spending for HIV will be used, with only three percent of about $600 million expected to go toward prevention programs in 2012, and how non-governmental organizations are coping with cuts in funding from international donor programs (Ferris-Rotman/Koppel, 12/21).

Austerity Measures In Europe May Cause Rise In Drug-Related HIV Infections, Report Says

“Austerity measures brought in to tackle Europe’s economic crisis may cause a rise in drug-related HIV infections as stretched health services struggle to cope, the E.U.’s narcotics agency said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “Greece, which is facing huge cutbacks, reported a large outbreak of HIV infections among drug users in July, the Lisbon-based agency said in its yearly report,” the news agency writes, noting, “New infections were also reported in Bulgaria, Estonia and Lithuania, it added.”

Greek Health System Suffers Amid Growing Economic Crisis

Reuters examines how a worsening economic crisis in Greece is affecting the country’s health system, highlighting a 36 percent decrease in health spending by Greeks this year, according to the National School of Public Health, and an increase of more than 50 percent in new cases of HIV from the first five months of 2010 to the same period this year. The news service also notes a rise in depression and suicide, writing, “Greeks are swallowing 35 percent more antidepressants than they did five years ago, according to the National School of Public Health. The health ministry says suicides are up 40 percent so far this year.”

Canada Supreme Court Rules Vancouver's Safe Drug-Injection Site Can Stay Open

“Vancouver’s Insite clinic, the only such safe-injection site for [people who use drugs] in North America, can stay open, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday in a landmark defeat for the federal government,” Reuters reports. “The country’s top court … ruled unanimously that closing the site would threaten the lives of drug users and therefore violate their human rights,” the news agency writes (Ljunggren, 9/30).

Human Rights Watch Report Says Foreign Aid Indirectly Supporting Forced Labor In Vietnam's Drug Rehabilitation Centers

In a report released Wednesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch “accused the United States government, the World Bank and other international donors of indirectly funding forced labor in Vietnam’s drug rehabilitation centers,” Inter Press Service reports. The report “said that Vietnam’s system of forced labor centers for people who use drugs has expanded over the last decade” and they “have been sustained by a variety of international donors, none of which has made objections,” the news service writes.

Few Treatment Options For Growing Population Of Drug Users In Afghanistan

The New York Times examines the “growing drug addiction problem” in Afghanistan, where, in 2010, about 900,000 people, or seven percent of the adult population, were using drugs, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The newspaper notes “a recent report by the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with Johns Hopkins University … found HIV present in about seven percent of drug users, double the figure just three years ago, said Dr. Fahim Paigham, who until recently directed the Ministry of Public Health’s AIDS control program.”

WHO Marks First-Ever World Hepatitis Day

The WHO on Thursday marked the first-ever World Hepatitis Day, recognizing a disease that affects nearly one of every three people in the world, the U.N. News Centre reports (7/27). According to a WHO press release, 1.4 million cases of hepatitis A occur each year, two billion people are infected with a hepatitis virus, and at least 130 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C (7/28).

NGOs Support Harm Reduction Declaration

Ahead of the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS, more than 200 international non-governmental organizations have pledged their support for the Beirut Declaration on HIV and Injecting Drug Use, which “call[s] on world leaders to scale up harm reduction programs that address the role of injecting drug use in the AIDS…

Supreme Court Of Canada Opens Hearings On Safe Drug Injection Facility

The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday began hearing the Canadian government’s case against Insite, a Vancouver-based legal injection site where people who use injecting drugs can obtain clean needles and syringes and inject their own drugs under a nurse’s supervision, the Canadian Press reports (5/12).