HIV Prevalence Increases Among IDUs in Pakistan; Harm Reduction Policies Must Be Implemented, Report Says
HIV prevalence among injection drug users in Pakistan is increasing and could reach an "alarming" rate if "harm reduction" services are not implemented across the country, according to a report released on Wednesday by the nongovernmental organization Nai Zindagi, Pakistan's Daily Times reports. The organization in July 2005 compiled the report after testing about 6,000 IDUs in the Pakistani cities of Faisalabad, Lahore, Sargodha and Sialkot. The report finds an HIV prevalence of about 6.2% among IDUs who were tested in the four cities, according to Nai Zindagi CEO Tariq Zafar. According to the report, the majority of those tested said they had heard of HIV/AIDS but did not know how it was transmitted. In addition, the report said that condoms are "hardly used with regular partners when compared to casual partners" among those tested (Hameed, Daily Times, 5/12). About 50% of the IDUs were married and sexually active, and about 10% were between the ages of 18 and 24, according to the report summary (Executive summary, May 2006). Most of the IDUs tested began injecting drugs between the ages of 25 and 28. The report recommends that harm reduction programs in the four cities provide services to at least 60% of IDUs, that harm reduction services be provided in prisons and that the media disseminate HIV awareness messages (Daily Times, 5/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.