Voucher Program for Injection Drug Users in China, Vietnam Could Help Contain Spread of HIV, Study Says
A voucher program for injection drug users in China and Vietnam could help contain the spread of HIV, according to a study released on Wednesday by Cambridge, Mass.-based Abt Associates at the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, the Wall Street Journal reports. The program, which was launched by Abt and funded by NIH and the Ford Foundation, involves trained peer educators -- who also are injection drug users -- distributing to other drug users vouchers that can be exchanged at local pharmacies for clean needles and syringes. In some cases, the vouchers can be exchanged for medicines and condoms, according to the Journal. The local police have agreed not to interfere with the program -- which targets injection drug users in the "remote" mountains on the border between Vietnam and China -- and pharmacists and health authorities support the project, the Journal reports. The study, which is based on data from the first year of the program, shows that although HIV transmission has not stopped completely, the number of new infections has decreased, according to Abt researcher Ted Hammett. HIV/AIDS prevalence among injection drug users has reached close to 20% on the Chinese side of the border and as high as 47% on the Vietnamese side. The program is set to run for another year, according to the Journal (Naik, Wall Street Journal, 7/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.