See also:
» 19.11.2010 - Pedal power may clean up Tanzania slum
» 26.01.2009 - Healers ignore government order
» 09.06.2008 - Tanzania controls HIV/AIDS
» 28.03.2007 - AIDS killed 193 Tanzanian teachers
» 08.12.2006 - African Muslim clerics divided on condom use
» 18.07.2006 - Ban on early marriage puts police within "firing range" of HIV
» 01.06.2006 - Tanzanian church still opposes condoms, sex education
» 31.05.2006 - Significant progress in East Africa as HIV prevalence declines - UNAIDS

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HIV linked to injected drugs in Zanzibar - new study

afrol News / PlusNews, 15 September - A study by the government of the semiautonomous Tanzanian island of Zanzibar has uncovered a link between substance abuse, commercial sex and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"Injection drug use and needle-sharing are common among substance users in Zanzibar, resulting in high prevalence of blood-borne infections," the survey said. "Injecting drug users could present a bridging population for HIV spread into the general population in Zanzibar, and interventions are critically needed to prevent this spread."

The findings of the 2005 study among 508 substance abusers in Zanzibar to determine the prevalence of HIV and other infections, such as syphilis and hepatitis, were presented by the health ministry at the international AIDS conference in Toronto, Canada, in August.

"About 57.7 percent of the youths [surveyed] offer sex for drugs, which includes group sex and anal sex," Dr Mohamed Dahoma, director of HIV/AIDS in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, told PlusNews.

Thirty-nine percent of participants admitted to intravenous drug use, of which 46 percent also admitted to sharing needles. Dahoma said some of the youths spent as much as US$240 on drugs every month, and heroin and marijuana were most commonly used.

Among intravenous drug users the prevalence of tested HIV infections was 30 percent, compared to 12 percent among non-intravenous drug users. Intravenous drug users who shared needles had a 28 percent infection rate, compared to only 5 percent among those who did not. HIV prevalence in the general population of Zanzibar is estimated at between 0.6 and 0.9 percent.

Condom use among drug users was found to be low. "Although during our study the youths wanted us to believe that they use condoms, in reality, circumstantial evidence shows that condoms are not being used," Dahoma said.

Peer pressure, boredom, frustration and lack of employment were some of the factors contributing to drug use.

Dahoma said the government should create more employment opportunities for young people and increase awareness of the dangers of drug use. He called on the government and parents to work together to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS by controlling the use of drugs.

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