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Open Access Research

Availability of HIV prevention and treatment services for people who inject drugs: findings from 21 countries

Zaino Petersen1*, Bronwyn Myers12, Marie-Claire van Hout3, Andreas Plüddemann1 and Charles Parry14

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Research Council, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit, PO Box 19070, Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town, South Africa

2 Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, University of Cape Town, Groote Schuur Hospital, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa

3 School of Health Sciences; Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland

4 Department of Psychiatry, University of Stellenbosch, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town, South Africa

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Harm Reduction Journal 2013, 10:13  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-10-13

Published: 19 August 2013

Abstract

Background

About a third of the global HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa are related to injecting drug use (IDU), and this accounts for a growing proportion of persons living with HIV. This paper is a response to the need to monitor the state of the HIV epidemic as it relates to IDU and the availability of HIV treatment and harm reduction services in 21 high epidemic countries.

Methods

A data collection form was designed to cover questions on rates of IDU, prevalence and incidence of HIV and information on HIV treatment and harm reduction services available to people who inject drugs (PWID). National and regional data on HIV infection, IDU in the form of reports and journal articles were sought from key informants in conjunction with a systematic search of the literature.

Results

Completed data collection forms were received for 11 countries. Additional country-specific information was sourced via the literature search. The overall proportion of HIV positive PWID in the selected countries ranged from 3% in Kazakhstan to 58% in Vietnam. While IDU is relatively rare in sub-Saharan Africa, it is the main driver of HIV in Mauritius and Kenya, with roughly 47% and 36% of PWID respectively being HIV positive. All countries had antiretroviral treatment (ART) available to PWID, but data on service coverage were mainly missing. By the end of 2010, uptake of needle and syringe programmes (NSP) in Bangladesh, India and Slovakia reached the internationally recommended target of 200 syringes per person, while uptake in Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Tajikistan reached between 100-200 syringes per person. The proportion of PWID receiving opioid substitution therapy (OST) ranged from 0.1% in Kazakhstan to 32.8% in Mauritius, with coverage of less than 3% for most countries.

Conclusions

In order to be able to monitor the impact of HIV treatment and harm reduction services for PWID on the epidemic, epidemiological data on IDU and harm reduction service provision to PWID needs to be regularly collected using standardised indicators.

Keywords:
Injecting drug use; People who inject drugs; Harm reduction; HIV prevention