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New global report launched by the International AIDS Society recommends a new paradigm for treating injecting drug users: 'Seek, test, treat and retain'
Date:7/22/2010

ho inject drugs taking up and staying on highly active anti retroviral therapy (HAART)," said Professor Dr Charles O'Brien, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania and one of the contributors to the report. "This in turn can lead to reductions in the community viral load and decrease new infections."

Wider uptake of HAART is associated with reduced community viral load and reduced transmission as well as individual survival. "Not only does treatment offer health benefits for the individual," said Dr Montaner, "but in diverse populations, we can now see that HAART is HIV prevention."

The selection of Vienna as the host city of the XVIII International AIDS Conference reflects the role the city has played in bridging Eastern and Western Europe. During the past week there has been a strong focus on Eastern Europe and Central Asia region, now home to what is the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world. Injecting drug use is the main driver of HIV infection in the region.

Some 65 per cent of HIV infections in Russia for instance, are through injecting drug use. The number of HIV infected people in Russia has increased tenfold in the past decade from an estimated 100,000 to one million. Eighty per cent of HIV positive people are under 30 years of age. Methadone is illegal in Russia.

"The Russian government does not implement an evidence based approach to decision-making on public health," said Dasha Ocheret, spokesperson for the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN). "The prohibition of substitution treatment such as methadone is based on Soviet ideology and denies drug users the right to life saving treatment and prevention that exist in the vast majority of countries in the region. Methadone treatment began in Lithuania as far back as 1984.

Russian Government funds are used for policing rather than sound public health policy. All attempts by the Russian government over the past decade to control drug tra
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Contact: Michael Kessler
mkessler@ya.com
43-699-172-85633
International AIDS Society
Source:Eurekalert

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