Tue, Jan 09, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Legislature wants addiction treatment for AIDS sufferers

PROGRESS?The MOJ argued that HIV/AIDS suffered should have access to free addiction treatment, but SARS suffered are not eligible

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a draft bill that opens the door for people with HIV or AIDS to receive state-funded treatment for drug addiction.

The proposal, which calls for free treatment for drug addicts who are also HIV/AIDS carriers and drug users with mental illnesses, was drafted by the Ministry of Justice and approved by the Judiciary Committee. Passage of the bill would mean that only drug addicts who are also SARS patients would be excluded from taking part in the nation's free addiction treatment program.

Representatives from the ministry told the Judicial Committee yesterday that drug addiction is a major conduit of HIV/AIDS transmissions, with two out of every three new HIV carriers being intravenous drug users. As such, they said, the government should allow HIV/AIDS carriers to receive free addiction treatment.

The Narcotics Endangerment Prevention Act (毒品危害防治條例) stipulates that first-time and minor drug offenders do not necessarily face criminal charges, but can be forced to undergo treatment for drug abuse.

Under the law, those arrested for use of "class one" drugs such as heroin and cocaine, or "class two" drugs such as amphetamines and marijuana, must undergo addiction treatment at drug abstention and treatment centers for a maximum of one month.

Those who still show signs of addiction after one month of treatment must undergo a second course of treatment, lasting up to one year.

The law stipulates that addicts who have received treatment but are arrested again for drug use will be charged.

The ministry last year opened four drug abstention and treatment centers in Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung and Taitung.

The ministry's records show that more than 3,500 people are receiving treatment for drug addiction nationwide.

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