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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
PAKISTAN: Alarming Surge in AIDS Among Addicts in Pakistan

January 23, 2012
Xinhua News Agency (01.22.12) - Monday, January 23, 2012

A Canada-funded surveillance project has found an alarming surge in HIV prevalence among injection drug users in Pakistan, the local newspaper Dawn reported Sunday. Overall prevalence was about 36.7 percent among IDUs, the paper said, citing the Canadian International Development Agency. However, in some cities of eastern Punjab province HIV prevalence among IDUs was 52.5 percent, while it was 42.5 percent in Sindh province.

The rise follows the April 2010 cancellation of a World Bank- financed syringe-exchange program by the provincial health secretary. The 1 billion rupee (US $11.1 million) program included operations in eight cities in Punjab. The Punjab government terminated the service after first demanding that the service provider disclose clients' identities - in violation of the agreement's confidentiality clause.

The syringe-exchange project served over 14,000 individuals and families in Punjab and another 6,000 in Sindh. No such program has operated there since its closure, despite reports the provincial government would provide an alternative service. There are an estimated 125,000 IDUs in the country.