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 Investigators may unlock mystery of how staph cells dodge the body's immune system
22.09.2017 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

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: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>