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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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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.