HIV Advocates is an HIV awareness program, which aims to share news, developments, and human rights movements as we battle HIV.
The war on drugs and drug users is necessary for the eradication of HIV. Sharing needles for blood transfusion, and use of one syringe by multiple drug users predisposes the addicts to HIV by transmission. It is estimated that there are 12.2 million PWID (People Who inject Drugs) worldwide, and around 1.65 million (13.5%) of this population are thought to be living with HIV. HIV prevalence among PWID is highest in South-West Asia (29.3%) and Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (22.8%).
The main method by which HIV propagates is by sharing needles. If a needle has been used by an HIV-infected person, using the same needle for drug injection will result in the infected blood being transfused in the next user. About 5-10% new HIV cases result from sharing needles, and about 80% of new HIV cases in Central Asia results from sharing of needles between drug users.
In many Asian countries, it is compulsory for people who inject drugs (PWID) to check into drug detention centres. These people have no access to rehabilitation therapies, such as psychological support, opioid substitution therapy or symptomatic treatment for withdrawal symptoms. Once released, they can go back to drug abuse, with the intensity severe than the previous habit. Instead of keeping the people in detention centres, the health sector of the respective countries should aim to target reductions in HIV transmission by the provision of single-use disposable needles, which are available at cheaper rates to everyone. Opioid substitution programs should be mass-marketed, and monitoring programs should be introduced. Stigma and discrimination against drug users and HIV-infected people needs to be eliminated, for better provision of health and community support.
HIV Advocates needs support from communities, and from people of all age groups, especially the younger ones – they have the motivation and energy which can be put to this cause. We also encourage the use of social media to create awareness about HIV prevention, and to negate the stigma associated with HIV and substance abuse.
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