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Injection Drug Use Fueling Spread of HIV/AIDS in Iran, Official Says

April 19, 2006

The growing number of injection drug users in Iran is fueling an increase in the number of new HIV cases, Mohammed Mehdi Gooya, head of the Ministry of Health and Medical Education's disease management office, said Monday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/17). The country is taking steps to address HIV and injection drug use. Under Iranian government-sponsored programs, health workers distribute clean syringes and provide methadone treatment to heroin users. In Tehran, the local administration is providing needles to hundreds of inmates who formerly shared syringes (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/18). According to the ministry, there are 70,000 people in Iran living with HIV and 137,000 injection drug users. The ministry previously had said about 20,000 people in Iran were HIV-positive. Gooya also said about 64% of HIV cases occurred through injection drug use, and the rate of drug use is increasing by about 8% annually (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/17).

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