Rising Illicit Injection Drug Use in Afghanistan Might Contribute to Spread of HIV, Health Official Says
The increasing use of illicit injection drugs in Afghanistan might be fueling the spread of HIV in the country, Afghan Health Minister Saifour Rehman said recently, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. According to Rehman, there are 61 confirmed HIV/AIDS cases in the country, compared with eight in 2001, 18 of which are among women and 15 of which are among illicit injection drug users. In addition, there are between 1,500 and 2,000 suspected HIV/AIDS cases in the country, the majority of which are among IDUs, Rehman added. According to Counternarcotics Minister Mohammad Zafar, as the price of illicit injection drugs, such as heroin, decreased, the number of heroin users in Kabul increased from 7,000 in 2003 to 14,000 in 2005. To address the issue, three nongovernmental organizations and a public hospital run programs to help IDUs overcome their addiction, and health authorities have encouraged an ABC model of HIV prevention, which stands for abstinence until marriage, be faithful and use condoms. In addition, Medecins Du Monde has been distributing sterile injection kits in the country since October, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (Jouault, AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.