From Addiction to Infection: Managing Drug Abuse in the Context of HIV/AIDS in Africa
People who use drugs are at higher risk of HIV: directly through the sharing of injecting equipment, indirectly through associated risk behavior, and physiologically through the substances’ impact on the immune system. Drug users, especially people who inject drugs (PWID) are a bridge to the general population. The treatment of drug addiction and provision of harm reduction interventions have impact on HIV transmission and incidence. Addiction treatment reduces the frequency of drug-related risky behaviors and enhances access and adherence to HIV treatment, resulting in fewer new infections. However, the drug policies of many African countries are punitive and hostile to harm reduction programs. These fuel criminalization of drug use and discrimination against the drug user thereby preventing individuals with drug addiction from accessing treatment programs. There is need to formulate policies aimed at protecting the rights of people with drug addiction and address the ethical aspects of treatment. (Afr J Reprod Health 2014; 18: 47-54)
Keywords: Drug users, Drug addiction, Substance use, HIV infection, Africa
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