Speaking at Iran's first training workshop for combating AIDS, Mohammad Mehdi Gouya said on one hand Iran straddles one of the busiest route for transit of illicit drugs and neighbors a country -- Afghanistan -- which has the highest volume of production of narcotics in the world.
In addition Iran's northern neighbors, Central Asian states, Pakistan as well as Afghanistan do not have effective AIDS prevention systems, said the head of Health Ministry's Disease Management Center.
He added that in the Persian Gulf littoral states, many foreign workers -- many from countries such as India and Pakistan are tested annually -- and if they are HIV positive will be repatriated to their country of origin.
"Despite our repeated request for information on manner of affliction with the AIDS virus these countries have not been cooperative.
"The total number of people with AIDS in the country is 1,846, of whom 600 have died," Gouya underlined.
The above figures pertains to those who have been identified and registered, but, 'unofficial data point to the existence of 22,000 to 23,000 AIDS patience in the country'.
He said the most common way to be inflicted with the deadly disease is through sharing contaminated needles -- 65 percent -- with only nine percent of the victims contracting the disease through sexual contact.
The country has taken a series of measures in the past to check the spread of AIDS, including segregating imprisoned drug addicts whose intravenous injections by contaminated shared needs are the number one contractors. Close to 300,000 addicts are said to be injecting drugs in Iran.
Health Ministry has also warned its officials against turning away AIDS patients, saying it would deal with any violations.
"Any refusal to accept those infected with the AIDS virus is against the law and because of the social problem which it creates, any violation will be dealt with," the ministry said in a directive, sent to the heads of the country's medical universities earlier this year.
The United Nations praised the role being played by Iran in preventing the spread of AIDS in the country.
An expert in the UN Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Juana Tomas Rossello, who spoke to IRNA described Iran's efforts and programs aimed at controlling the spread of the disease a 'success'.
"Many AIDS cases in Iran are caused by injection (using contaminated needles)," she said, adding that the workshop would lay ground rules for adopting coordinated and comprehensive decisions to remedy the situation.
... Payvand News - 5/21/03 ... --