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close this bookDrug Abuse - HIV/AIDS: A Devastating Combination (UNAIDS - UNDCP, 12 p.)
View the documentUNDCP: ON THE FRONTLINE OF AIDS PREVENTION
View the documentLETHAL COMBINATION
View the documentDRUGS AND RISKY SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
View the documentUNDCP RESPONSE
View the documentUNDCP PROJECTS
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UNDCP: ON THE FRONTLINE OF AIDS PREVENTION

The United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) is responsible for leading global drug control activities. Because international drug control is a vital tool for HIV prevention, UNDCP became a cosponsor of UNAIDS in 1999.

Drug abuse is one of the primary ways HIV is spread. It is estimated that more than five percent of all HIV infections are related to injecting drug use with infected needles. Risky sexual behaviour under the influence of drugs, whether they are injected or taken some other way, is another leading cause of HIV transmission.

UNDCP's prevention activities are particularly focused on children and young people. The future of the HIV epidemic lies in the hands of young people. The behavior young people adopt and maintain throughout their lives will determine the course of the epidemic in the decades to come.


Countries and territories reporting injecting drug use and HIV infections among Injecting Drug Users

Sources: Annual reports questionnaire, part 11 on drug abuse (E/NR/199812); Drug Injecting and HIV Infection: Gerry Stimson, Don C. Des Jarlais and Andrew Ball (WHO), UNAIDS/WHO Epi Fact sheet: Prokovski et al, 1999. Pompidou Group Project on Treatment Demand: Final Report on Treated Drug Users in 23 European Cities Data 1997: Trends 1996-97

Note: The boundaries shown on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations

What is AIDS?

AIDS is an incurable condition caused by the virus called HIV. When HIV enters your body, it starts attacking your immune system which normally protects your body against diseases. Over the years, as HIV slowly weakens your immune system, you develop first minor illnesses, and then serious and ultimately life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. This is the final stage of infection that doctors call "AIDS".


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UNAIDS/Neelman


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How do you get HIV?

HIV spreads through unprotected sex (intercourse without a condom), infected blood transfusions, contaminated needles (most often as used for inject drugs) and from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, child-birth or breastfeeding.


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Brazil

In an effort to target drug abuse among street children, a UNDCP project has developed short prevention videos that are shown in the streets in the regions with the highest crack consumption.

UNDCP also works closely with the country's National AIDS Programme on drug use prevention and AIDS education for drug users.

LETHAL COMBINATION

In many parts of the world, injecting drug use is fast becoming one of the main modes of HIV transmission. Of the different ways the virus can be transmitted, the most efficient way is to inject HIV directly into the bloodstream - whether with a contaminated needle or through a contaminated blood transfusion.


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UNAIDS/Neelman

A CONTAMINATED NEEDLE CARRIES A GREATER RISK OF INFECTION THAN UNPROTECTED SEXUAL INTERCOURSE.


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Is AIDS something that only homosexuals and drug users can get?

No. Anyone can get infected with HIV. There is no specific group of people who are the only ones to get AIDS. But you are at risk if you have unprotected sex or share needles.

DRUGS COULD BE THE LAST THING YOU DO.

In Belarus, four out of five registered HIV infections are drug users in their teen and twenties. HIV's potential spread in the drug using community is dangerously high in Eastern Europe. A large number of am syringes an

Dima, Belarus


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"At the age of 14 I had friends who tried drugs, so I knew in full detail how drugs are made and used. The very first injection grabbed hold of me and I began to do drugs regularly.

Three years later I went down on a drug charge for the first time and had the full pleasure of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Starting from 1987, I visited funerals of 30-50 close acquaintances and friends who died of drug-related reasons (suicide, overdose, and blood infection).

I got used to death and was no longer afraid to die.

When I first found out I tested HIV-positive, I was wondering how long I had to live. No definite answer was given to me. Now I'm doing my part in a project in my "peer group" and it gives me joy to see that I really help other guys just like myself which brightens my mood. At least for the time being.

I have a message for those who haven't tried this 'crap' yet - it's sticking your head straight into a noose, pure and simple, there's virtually no way out."

In Spain, almost 70 percent of all reported AIDS cases between 1980 and 1997 were due to injecting drug use.

Merche (24) - Spain


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"I'm Merche, I am 24 years old, HIV positive, a mother, a friend, an acquaintance, an employee, a house wife and a lot of other things.

My parents were divorced and I lived with my father until I was 9, and after that with my mother. As a child, I was both physically and psychologically abused, and ran away from home several times. I was also abused by a boyfriend as a teenager.

Why did I start taking drugs? Like many young girls do: I met a boy who was already a heroin addict and started experimenting I had a deep-rooted desire for self-destruction at the time. At the age of 17 I was already going to a rehabilitation centre. At the rehabilitation center, my boyfriend found out he was HIV positive - I tested negative. One year later, I was tested again and found I had developed HIV.

I do not feel I have to be ashamed of my infection - I don't want anyone to sentence me to die while I am living. I have been clean since I was 18. I spend some of my time volunteering at the Concordia Center in Marbella - driving to schools around the area and sharing my experiences with others. The future? I have the absurd determination to live. To the kids who are now taking drugs or have AIDS I would like to say: there is still hope - you cannot decide when to die, but you can decide to live. There is always a way out - look for help, ask for help."


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WHEN YOU MESS WITH PARTY DRUGS SUCH AS ALCOHOL, ECSTASY, MARIJUANA AND COCAINE, THESE DRUGS MESS WITH YOU. THAT LOSS OF CONTROL COULD COST YOU YOUR LIFE - EITHER BECAUSE OF AN OVERDOSE OR BECAUSE UNSAFE SEX CAN LEAD TO HIV.

DRUGS AND RISKY SEXUAL BEHAVIOR

The risk of HIV transmission is not confined to drugs that are injected. Drugs normally alter people's judgment, and can lead to risky sexual behavior, such as unprotected sex (intercourse without a condom).

The majority of drug users claim they rarely use condoms. Surveys continue to show that many partners of drug users do not use drugs but are nevertheless at risk of HIV because they engage in unprotected sex with their drug-using partner.


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DRUGS:

· make you forget what is important
· alter your mind and affect your judgement
· make it more difficult to say "NO"
· make it harder to negotiate the use of a condom

There is still no cure or vaccine for either HIV or AIDS. There are, however, new medications that can help people with HIV stay healthy longer and delay the onset of AIDS.

An individual's drug use can also harm his or her children. In the United States, where injecting drug use is the number two mode of transmission of HIV for women, many babies born to HIV-positive women have themselves been infected before or at birth. In more than forty percent of the HIV cases among children, the mother was an injecting drug user before the child's birth.

If you are HIV positive and pregnant, there is a medication you can take to greatly decrease the chances of your baby becoming infected with HIV.


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UNAIDS/Noorani


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UNICEF/Magnoni

Some people are forced into risky behavior because of their drug problem. A growing number of women and men are trading sex for drugs. A study in a Russian city found that four out of every five women treated for HIV-related illness at the regional AIDS center made a living from selling sex. A survey among crack users in Brazil, found that 60 percent of the females worked as prostitutes to buy drugs. The sex workers did not use condoms to protect themselves or their customers.

Protect yourself and your partners - don't share needles and use a condom every time for sex.

How do you know you have HIV?

People who think they may have HIV can visit a doctor and be tested for HIV. The test will let them know if the virus is in their body.

What does a person with HIV look like?


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Boehringer Ingelheim International GhBH

Don't think you can tell who has HIV. A person HIV may or may not look sick. People infected the virus often look and feel healthy for a long time. They can carry the virus for many months or years before they get sick. But all that time they can unknowingly infect others if they have unprotected sex or share needles with them.

Christine, 21 - Kenya


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At the age of 13 Christine decided to leave home for good. She spent five years on the streets. In order to survive, Christine had to be part of a gang. She had a boyfriend who was the only gang member allowed to have sex with her. He would send her out to have sex with other men and give the money she received back to him.

Not aware of the dangers of drugs, Christine said she started doing drugs when she was eleven, smoking cannabis and taking other drugs.

Christine got sick living in the streets and was placed in a hospital where she was tested for HIV. "One night I overheard two nurses talking about the young girl in this bed being HIV positive. I opened my eyes and asked her to repeat what she said, and she told me that you are going to die of AIDS soon. I cried all day and night and kept thinking of suicide."

Christine has been involved with a Catholic youth organization since 1995, counseling young people and doing educational programmes in schools. "I advise kids to control the situation, that it is not advisable to go to the street."

What can you do if you have HIV?

Talk to doctors and health workers about the medical care and other help avail able in your community. Even if expensive new therapies are not available, you should be able to get medicines to treat and relieve your infections, as well as psychological counselling and social support.

UNDCP RESPONSE

As a UNAIDS Cosponsor, UNDCP aims to reduce the vulnerability of young people by carrying out projects that promote a healthy life-style. A supportive environment is crucial. Having easy access to health services, developing life skills and being educated about the health risks that come with drug abuse are the keys to staying drug free - and free of HIV.

UNDCP Peer educators

Brazil: Vera and Deivez lost their home and their son because of their addiction. They now work in a UNDCP-sponsored peer educator project in Brazil, Treated drug abusers can represent a bridge to those still abusing drugs by sharing information and experiences in risk reduction practices and treatment

Deivez. 38:


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"After I found out I was HIV positive, I started to use drugs more and more often - I even tried to overdose at one point, but could not bring myself to it because I was too afraid to die - even though I had death in me already. I share the experience of living in the world of drugs - stories and scars that never let you forget the past."

Vera. 33:

"I started to inject when I was 30. I found out I was HIV positive about 2 years ago. I didn't know anything about prevention, because I wasn't really interested in the subject. I have lost everything because of drugs and AIDS. I hope they will find a cure for AIDS, so that I can raise my son."

Vietnam: In Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh Cities, Vietnam, infection through injecting drug use represents nearly 80 percent of all the identified HIV infections. UNDPC is working in the country to strengthen outreach programmes among urban drug abusers who are at high-risk of contracting HIV.

Le Anh Tuan. 31:


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"I remember I was unemployed and feeling very bored, so I started to smoke heroin. I continued to smoke the drug until I ran out of money, and then I changed from smoking to injecting. I had to sell all the furniture to get the money for the drug. There is a strong possibility that my wife has contracted the HIV virus from me. I make myself an alive evidence for the harms of drugs when talking to drug users and trying to persuade them not to go the same path."

UNDCP PROJECTS

Thailand


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In Thailand, UNDCP and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are supporting activities aimed at educating Muslim adolescents on reproductive health, drug abuse prevention and HIV/AIDS.

The cartoon Goldtooth, developed by Street Kids International (S. K. I.), is a story about a boy named Karate and his sister Nina, who get involved with drugs and violence in the streets. Like street children everywhere, they must deal with men like the villain Goldtooth - pimps and drug dealers who promise happiness and feed on misery. As part of a joint UNDCP/UNAIDS project, the cartoon has been dubbed into twenty-five languages, and is currently being used in over 100 countries to educate vulnerable people on the dangers of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.


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Lamb and Pindal

Myanmar


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In the border areas of Myanmar and Thailand, UNDCP supported the training of teachers of primary, secondary and high schools in undertaking drug abuse and HIV prevention activities. At the same time, the project implemented media campaigns among the general public and trained teams of outreach workers to target out-of-school youth.

Back Cover

Drug Abuse ® HIV/AIDS:

A devastating combination

· There are more than 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS.

· Since the first HIV/AIDS case from injecting drug use (IDU) was diagnosed in New York in 1981, over 3. 3 million people have been infected worldwide by injecting, drug use. It is now estimated than more than ten percent of all AIDS cases are due to injecting drug use.

· The numbers of countries reporting HIV infection among injecting drug users increased by nearly 40 percent between 1996 and 1998.

For further information,
please visit our websites at:
www.unaids.org
www.undcp.org