Tanzania: Officials Agree to Address Drug Use, Needle-Sharing
April 15, 2008
A conference last month on the association between drug injection and the spread of HIV in Tanzania stressed the need for a national survey to give authorities an outline of the scale of the problem.
About one-half of 1,000 drug users surveyed in poor sections of Dar es Salaam were HIV-positive, according to an investigation led by Gad Kilonzo, a psychology professor at Muhimbili University College of Health Sciences. Furthermore, almost 65 percent of those interviewed said they had sold sex to buy drugs in the previous month.
Also driving drug use is poverty, Kilonzo said. The UN reports one-third of Tanzanians live on less than $1 a day and may rely on drugs to dull the hardships of life.
"If we continue putting everything against drug use and not actually helping [users] quit or use [drugs] in a better way, the spread of AIDS will continue," said Geoffrey Somi, head of epidemiology at Tanzania's National AIDS Control Program.
Convincing drug injectors to be tested for HIV is a hurdle, said Badria Hamyar, a social counselor: "Mentally, drug users don't care so much about the problem of HIV. They only care about having drugs -- and afterwards, when they quit, never looking back."
Nationally, adult HIV prevalence in Tanzania is about 6.5 percent, according to UNAIDS.
Inter Press Service
4.08.2008; Sarah McGregor
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.