Combination of Methamphetamine Use, Sex in Southeast Asia Leading to Rise in Number of AIDS Cases
In Southeast Asia, where opium was "the longtime king of the illicit high," methamphetamine use has become the "most devastating narcotics problem" in the region in the past five years, and the mixture of the drug with sex is leading to a rise in the number of new HIV/AIDS cases, the San Francisco Chronicle reports in the latest article in its occasional series on AIDS in Asia. According to the U.N. International Narcotics Control Board, 70% of the world's meth trade occurs in Southeast Asia, but the situation is "most acute" in Thailand, where an estimated 800 million meth pills are sold each year and 5% of the country's population is addicted to the drug, which can be injected, smoked or swallowed. The "cross-pollination" of AIDS with meth was "inevitable," as HIV can be transmitted through needle sharing, the Chronicle reports. In the past few years, AIDS-related illness has surpassed heart failure as the leading cause of death in Thailand, according to the Chronicle (Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.