Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

High-risk behaviors could lead to HIV epidemic in Afghanistan

29.08.2007
In a report that is among the first to describe the prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B and C viruses in Afghanistan, a researcher from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine voiced concerns that increasing injection drug use and accompanying high-risk behavior could lead to an HIV epidemic in Afghanistan.

“Our findings suggest that interventions to reduce high-risk behaviors among injection drug users are urgently needed in Afghanistan,” said Catherine S. Todd, M.D., MPH, assistant professor in UCSD’s Division of International Health and Cross-cultural Medicine, who is currently working in Kabul, Afghanistan. The findings are published in the September issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Although HIV prevalence is currently low among injection drug users in Kabul, Todd and colleagues with the National HIV/AIDS Control Program of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health found that risky injecting and sexual behaviors were alarmingly high. The incidence of Hepatitis C infection was also high, which could foreshadow an increase in HIV rates.

“It is important to educate the public about this looming problem in Afghanistan,” said Dr. Saifur Rehman, manager of the HIV/AIDS Control Program of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, who added that one of the biggest obstacles to intervention programs is lack of funding. Afghanistan has received a $10 million grant from the HIV/AIDS programs of the World Bank for three years and has a pending proposal to the Global Fund. Programming for drug users, directed towards reducing or containing adverse health, social, and economic consequences, is a major component of these plans. The country continues to seek other support to help deal with the potential increase in HIV – a problem which, Rehman says, is of unknown proportions. “It is not clear how many cases we have, but there are probably many more than are reflected by available test results,” he said.

The research team conducted a study of 464 injection drug users in Kabul, age 18 and older, which was administered between June 2005 and June 2006. The study was conducted through the Voluntary Counseling and Testing Center at the Central Polyclinic in Kabul, an Afghan Ministry of Public Health facility. Pre- and post-test counseling and rapid antibody testing for HIV and HCV were performed, and all participants received risk reduction counseling, condoms and sterile syringes.

Among this group of Afghan males, high-risk behaviors were common, including sharing syringes (50%), paid sex with a women (76%), and sex with men or boys (28%.) More than half had been incarcerated in prison, 21 percent of them, more than once.

The prevalence of infection with HIV was calculated at about three percent while 38% of the respondents tested positive for Hepatitis C (HCV) infection. HCV was associated with the sharing of needles or syringes, duration of injecting, and having received injections from a non-medical provider. The relatively high prevalence of HCV may potentially foreshadow an HIV epidemic, as these infections share common risk factors.

“The window of opportunity is rapidly closing to avert an HIV epidemic among Afghan injection drug users. The low prevalence of HIV infection is unlikely to continue in the presence of high-risk behavior,” said Todd, adding that the higher prevalence of hepatitis C may be a harbinger of trends with HIV.

Central Asia is experiencing a rapid increase in HIV cases, largely driven by injection drug use. Afghanistan is the largest global producer of opium; recent UNODC reports estimate there are 50,000 heroin users in the country. While opium has been used for centuries in Afghanistan, the researchers’ data suggests that injection drug use in Kabul is a relatively new behavior.

A combination of outreach, HIV testing and counseling, access to sterile syringes and drug substitution therapies have been credited with stabilizing HIV rates in other international settings, the study noted. The researchers conclude that a scale-up of needle exchange and other harm-reduction programs, particularly in prisons, is necessary to prevent an HIV epidemic in Afghanistan.

Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator
23.02.2018 | University of Turku

nachricht Minimising risks of transplants
22.02.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>