Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Pakistani Officials Fear Increase in Heroin Use May Lead to Rise in Number of HIV Cases
Pakastani officials fear that an increase in opium production in neighboring Afghanistan may increase heroin use and subsequently increase the number of HIV infections transmitted through needle sharing, the
AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. Despite post-Taliban government laws prohibiting drug trafficking, Afghan farmers have once again begun growing poppies for the opium trade, a practice that was forbidden by the Taliban, which ruled the nation from 1996 until their recent ouster by U.S.-backed forces. HIV testing is "spotty" in Pakistan -- where 200,000 of the country's 140 million citizens are known to be HIV-positive -- leading officials to fear that more people are infected than reported figures indicate. Many HIV-positive Pakistanis contracted the virus through sharing needles. With more than 50% of the population illiterate, the rehabilitation of heroin users and education of citizens about HIV transmission is "difficult." Riazullah Khan Chib, a senior official with Pakistan's
Anti-Narcotics Force, said, "[T]his is not an easy task," adding that education and rehabilitation "can't be accomplished without society's help and involvement" (Ahmad, AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 1/28).
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