Australian Associated Press (03.01.10) - Tuesday, March 02,
HIV prevention and treatment service coverage for injecting
drug users (IDUs) is too low in many countries to prevent
transmission, a discrepancy that impacts infection rates at
the local level, new research shows.
"Governments that have not made needle and syringe programs
and opioid substitution available need to be convinced that
these interventions are the most effective ways to stop HIV
spreading among [IDUs], and to the wider community," said lead
author Dr. Bradley Mathers of the University of New South
Wales National Drug and Alcohol Research Center.
Australian health authorities distribute 213 clean needles per
IDU each year, compared with 188 for the United Kingdom, 46 in
Canada and 22 in the United States. In Russia, which has the
second-largest IDU population after China, there is no
methadone substitution. Other prevention measures among
Russian IDUs are, similarly, virtually non-existent. HIV
prevalence among Russian IDUs is 40 percent, versus just 1.5
percent among IDUs in Australia.
"Our high level of prevention in Australia has paid off with
low levels of HIV infection among [IDUs] compared with
countries with a similar level of injecting drug use," Mathers
Globally, just 8 percent of IDUs had access to a syringe
exchange program last year, Mathers said. Coverage ranged from
100 percent in the Czech Republic and Ireland to less than 3
percent in China, Malaysia and Thailand. Opioid substitution
therapy was available in only 70 of 151 countries with known
Only one of every 25 HIV-positive IDUs globally is receiving
antiretroviral treatment. The worst treatment coverage was
found in Kenya, Pakistan, and Russia.
The full report, "HIV Prevention, Treatment, and Care Services
for People Who Inject Drugs: A Systematic Review of Global,
Regional, and National Coverage," was published in The Lancet