Aided by war

AIDS may rise in Pakistan

Published: Sunday 31 August 2003

Rates of hiv in Pakistan are at present quite low -- about 0.1 per cent of the total adult population is infected. However, the situation may soon become grim, indicates a study. Needle sharing, and consequently the risk of exposure to hiv among drug users, increased significantly in Pakistan as a result of the war in Afghanistan during 2001. This is the finding of the study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the us. They followed 244 heroin users who registered for services at a non-governmental organisation in Lahore between August and October 2001. The researchers found that 56 per cent of drug users who registered before the war shared needles. The number increased to 76 per cent after the commencement of the conflict. "It is possible that drug users were saving their money to buy drugs rather than syringes, as the prices of heroine increased after the military action," says Steffanie Strathdee, the lead author of a study.

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