Drug users not catered for in Aids plan

Gregg Gonsalves of the Aids and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa said the NSP made very broad statements and intentions to address the problem, but nothing substantial.

 

He warned that an injecting drug user epidemic was not a slow developing epidemic, but one that exploded in a very short period.

 

‘€œYou could have between 30 and 40 percent prevalence within one year,’€ he warned.

 

Mauritius had a tiny injecting drug user driven HIV epidemic in 2000 which has now exploded to one that is now 90 percent injecting drug user driven.

Gonsalves said Gauteng had a large population of injecting drug users. Best estimates are that the HIV infection rate is in the region of 20 percent among injecting drug users in South Africa.

 

‘€œIt will explode if harm reduction programmes are not put in place soon,’€ Gonsalves cautioned.

 

Gonsalves said it was worth noting that Crystal Methamphetamine (tik) could be injected and that most users reported perceived increases in sexual pleasure when using the drug.

 

This in turn would lead to users participating in risky (unprotected) sex which Gonsalves said would see increased rates of HIV infection.

‘€œWe could soon see a correlation between Methamphetamine use and HIV prevalence,’€ he said.

 

Gonsalves called for needle exchange programmes to be made available for heroin users and for the development of specific interventions for tik users.  

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