UNODC, Afghan Health Ministry Establish Regional Initiative To Control Spread of HIV Among IDUs
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Afghan Ministry of Health have established a regional plan to prevent and control the spread of HIV among injection drug users who are refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Xinhua News Agency reports. According to a release from the health ministry, the project aims to bolster access to and availability, quality and uptake of HIV prevention and care services. It also aims to create a regional network of HIV prevention efforts (Xinhua News Agency, 4/8).
The two-and-a-half-year-project will cost more than $1.8 million. According to UNODC Representative Jean Luke, one HIV/AIDS center will be established in Iran and Pakistan each, and one center will be established on the border between the countries. In addition, a center will be established in Kabul, Afghanistan, to monitor the progress of the regional centers, Luke said. He added that nongovernmental organizations will provide health services at the centers. According to Luke, the centers will begin operations in one month.
An estimated 2.2 million registered Afghan refugees live in Iran and Pakistan, while a total of about 1.5 million refugees are estimated to be living in Iran. About 100,000 unregistered Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, according to some estimates. According to health official Syed Muhammad Amin Fatemi, HIV/AIDS prevalence in the general Afghan population is 0.5%, compared with up to 3% in IDUs. According to figures from the health ministry, about one million people in Afghanistan are addicted to drugs (Salihi, Pajhwok Afghan News, 4/8).