Pakistani Narcotics Ministry, U.N. Working To Reduce Drug Use, Spread of HIV in Prisons
Pakistan's Ministry of Narcotics Control and Anti-Narcotics Force in collaboration with the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime are launching a three-year, $497,000 project to help combat HIV/AIDS and drug use in four prisons in the country, sources said on Friday, Pakistan's Business Recorder reports. According to the Recorder, 75% of inmates in Pakistan are imprisoned for drug-related crimes. The project aims to stem the spread of HIV through interventions that would encourage inmates to make individual choices regarding drug use, prison life and HIV/AIDS, the Recorder reports. According to officials, it is expected to be a model for programs in other prisons on a larger scale. The narcotics ministry also said it plans to increase access to treatment for injection drug users as part of a national program to prevent drug-related HIV transmissions. In addition, officials say they plan to strengthen control on the movement of chemicals required to produce heroin in neighboring Afghanistan. Officials estimate that there are 500,000 heroin users in Pakistan, and a concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic has been recorded among the country's estimated 60,000 IDUs. The narcotics ministry and U.N. agencies are working together to reduce the overall number of drug users in the country, which has increased from four million to five million because of weakened border patrols along trafficking routes, officials said. UNODC is expected to release a report in April that includes data on drug-related HIV transmissions in the country (Kashif, Business Recorder, 3/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.