AIDS report praises Iran's approaches to reducing HIV
Tehran, June 7, IRNA -The UNAIDS 2006 Global AIDS Epidemic report
praises Iran for adopting more progressive approaches to reducing HIV among
injecting drug users, while cautioning that HIV epidemic is growing in the
Islamic Republic of Iran.
The report which was released last week on the occasion of the
High Level Meeting on AIDS in New York, took note of a significant judicial
order in the Islamic Republic in 2005.
According to this order individuals who use illegal drugs
would no longer be targets of criminal prosecution as long as they are under
treatment as patients by the public health system.
The report said that in the Middle East and North Africa,
except for Sudan, national adult HIV prevalence in these countries in these
regions is very low and does not exceed 0.1 percent.
"However, available data suggest that the epidemics are
growing in several countries, including in Algeria, the Islamic Republic of
Iran, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Morocco.
"The main mode of HIV transmission in this region is
unprotected sexual contact, although injecting drug use is an increasingly
important factor, especially in the epidemics in the Islamic Republic of Iran
and Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
"With risk behavior widespread among Iran's large population
of injecting drug users, high HIV infection levels are being found: when tested
15 percent of male injecting drug users attending Tehran drug treatment centers
"Most of the injecting drug users were sexually active, and
exchanging money for sex was common; yet, only about half had ever used a condom
(Zamani et al., 2005; Ministry of Health and Medical Education Iran, 2004).
"In Marvdasht, two in three injecting drug users seeking
treatment reported sharing needles, and one in five said they had done so in
prison (Day et al., 2005)," the report said.
The global report further said that "indeed, an important risk
factor for HIV infection among injecting drug users appears to be incarceration
(Rahbar et al., 2004). Given that a large proportion (almost half, by some
estimates) of the total prison population in Iran comprises persons detained for
drug-related offenses, there is an urgent need to expand HIV prevention
(including methadone maintenance therapy) programs, especially in correctional
settings (Zamani et al., 2005)."
According to the latest estimates presented
in the report, the number of people living with HIV in Iran is 66,000, of which
11,000 are women. It said 1600 people have died due to AIDS in Iran. The
estimates of those covered by HIV/AIDS intervention in Iran showed that there is
need to expand this coverage.
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