Epidemiological study between drug users and HIV infection was done by Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The results of the study showed that an epidemic of HIV infections is sweeping along the heroin-trafficking countries of Afghanistan to Eastern Europe. "This HIV/AIDS epidemic is just beginning and the virus is, again, ahead of our responses," says Chris Beyrer. "Drug treatment and HIV prevention must be implemented now, everywhere the heroin is flowing."
Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan produce 420 tonnes of the narcotic every year. Afghan heroin on its way to Eastern Europe takes a direct route through Tajikistan, the poorest country of the former Soviet Union. HIV prevalence among its drug users was 12% in 2004, up from 4% in 2001. HIV prevalence among Iran's two to four million drug users is 15%. Eastern Europe and Central Asia are home to 1.4 million HIV-positive people, most acquired the virus from sharing intravenous drug injection equipment. The prevalence of HIV is high in young male sexually active drug users and this makes the possibility of wide spread of the infection.
Brazil implemented aggressive HIV prevention strategies among its drug-using community and has since seen a decline in transmission rates. Tajikistan users with access to needle exchanges had half the prevalence rate of those who did not. Changes will have to come from the authorities, says Beyrer. Methadone - a drug used to treat heroin addiction - is still illegal in Russia. The US still does not fund needle exchange programs, neither at home or abroad.
(Source: The New Scientist)
Related information on AIDS transmission in Medindia:
HIV virus is transmitted by exchange of body fluids from infected person to the uninfected. Sexual activities can transmit the virus when direct contact occurs between the HIV infected persons body fluid and mucous membranes of another. This spread can be prevented by avoiding these behaviors or by use of preventive condoms. Use of disposable syringes can avoid transmission of the virus by needle. Routine testing for HIV can prevent transmission through blood transfusions.
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