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 Vanishing capillaries
23.03.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>