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HIV/AIDS Festers In Climate Of Prison

HIV/AIDS Festers In Climate Of Prison, Addiction And Forced Prostitution – UN

Drug addiction, human trafficking and prison together form a “trilogy” of conditions contributing to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said today.

Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of the Vienna-based agency, said that once HIV “enters the drug user community, it spreads rapidly, reaching – in some cases – an infection rate of more than 80 per cent in less than six months.”

Mr. Costa said the same disturbing trend could be seen among the inmates of overcrowded prisons – who tend to share drugs, needles and sex – and the victims of human trafficking.

Pointing out that an estimated 1 million people worldwide are illegally smuggled, he said, “These men, women and children are coerced into sex work, pedophilia and child exploitation” and as such are more vulnerable to infection.

The UNODC also estimates there are about 12.6 million injecting drug users around the world, and in some countries 80 per cent of the drug users are HIV-positive.

Injecting drug users form the majority of HIV/AIDS sufferers in several countries, including Indonesia, Myanmar, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Viet Nam.

Mr. Costa made his remarks ahead of a meeting tomorrow in Livingstone, Zambia, of nine agencies which are part of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). At that event, UNODC is expected present evidence of the impact of drug addiction and human trafficking on HIV/AIDS.

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