Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Tainan to offer addicts treatment option

CNA , TAIPEI

As part of its efforts to reduce drug hazards in the country, the Tainan Prosecutors' Office will launch an experimental program on Sept. 1 offering suspended indictment to drug addicts on condition that they undergo compulsory treatment, a spokesman said on Friday.

Under the program, drug addicts who turn themselves in will be granted suspended indictment if they contribute NT$50,000 to a special fund to help finance the cost of compulsory treatment.

Drug addicts caught by law enforcement officers will have to contribute NT$100,000 to the special alternative treatment fund to qualify for the suspended charges.

Chu Chao-liang (朱朝亮), chief prosecutor in Tainan, said the compulsory contribution was in line with the office's policy of "making users pay."

The compulsory treatment will require drug addicts to visit a designated hospital regularly to take a dose of Methadone -- a substitute drug designed to reduce dependence on certain lethal drugs and lower the risk of contracting diseases through injections.

Chu unveiled the experimental drug-hazard reduction program at a policy coordination meeting of officials from the Department of Health (DOH), the Tainan County Government and the Tainan City Government.

Speaking at the meeting held at the DOH-run Chianan Psychiatric Center in Tainan County, Kuo Hsu-sung (郭旭崧), director of the Center for Disease Control, said that the health department welcomed the new experimental program to help drug addicts kick the habit.

"We hope the new program will provide a fillip to our fight against drug hazards and drug addiction," Kuo said.

As drug addition is a major conduit for AIDS/HIV transmissions -- with two out of every three new HIV carriers being intravenous drug users -- the health department launched a clean needle project in Taipei as well as Taipei, Taoyuan and Tainan counties last year on an experimental basis.

The project has borne fruit, as new HIV infection rates in those areas have all dropped below the national average of 56.38 percent. Since July 1 this year, the "clean needle" program has been implemented around the country.

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