Public Health Authorities in Chinese Region Tackle Rise in Injection Drug Use, HIV
Public health authorities in China's mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang are "struggling to confront an increase in intravenous drug use and an attendant rise in AIDS cases," the New York Times reports. Roughly 60,000 of Xinjiang's 20 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and the region has one-tenth of China's AIDS cases and the highest HIV prevalence nationwide, according to the Times. Previously, injection drug users were handled by the police, "who regarded them as simple criminals whose drug use was to be combated mercilessly," the Times reports. There have been high levels of resistance to treating drug use as a public health threat in China -- a reflection of what "some international health experts say was a slow response to" HIV in the country as HIV/AIDS "first gained a foothold," according to the Times. Since 2005, health authorities in the region have used different strategies -- including needle-exchange programs, drug substitution programs, community outreach programs and briefings targeted toward imams and mullahs -- to tackle the situation, according to the Times (French, New York Times, 11/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.