Thai Justice Ministry to Work With UNAIDS to Reduce Injection Drug Use, HIV Transmission in Thai Prisons
March 11, 2004
The Thai Ministry of Justice on Tuesday agreed to work with UNAIDS to reduce injection drug use and HIV transmission in Thai prisons, Thailand's Nation reports. UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Kathleen Cravero this week met with Justice Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana and toured Bang Kwang Central Prison. Cravero said that the ministry has agreed to cooperate with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to attempt to reduce prisoners' use of injection drugs, which has been a significant mode of HIV transmission. Cravero also said that Thailand needs to research and address the role of sex in HIV transmission in the country's prisons. UNAIDS Country Director Sompong Chareonsuk said that the number of injection drug users seeking treatment dramatically decreased last year during the country's "war on drugs," according to the Nation. Although there is no specific evidence linking the decrease to the country's efforts to reduce injection drug use, HIV prevalence in this group is increasing, Chareonsuk said. Cravero said that the government in its anti-drug campaign needs to make sure that it does not "inadvertently drive [drug users] underground" and must launch an educational campaign to teach drug users how to reduce their chances of contracting HIV, according to the Nation. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Monday launched another anti-drug campaign, which will maintain pressure to prevent drug use from re-emerging, the Nation reports. The campaign will focus on urban communities, border villages, schools, entertainment establishments, service industries, dormitories, rental houses and poor areas, according to the Nation (Khwankhom, Nation, 3/10).
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