Thu, Nov 30, 2006 - Page 4 News List

HIV infection caused by needle sharing increasing

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The number of drug addicts sharing solution and needles is increasing in direct relation to a decrease in the drug supply over the last three years. The result has been a rapid increase in HIV infections among drug addicts, a survey released yesterday by the Healthy Life Alliance said.

The survey was conducted between last month and this month by Lyu Shu-yu (呂淑妤), an associate professor of public health at Taipei Medical University, among 540 HIV-positive prison inmates.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents were drug addicts, and 90 percent were infected with HIV after 2003.

While 72 percent of the respondents said they had contracted HIV through sharing needles with other HIV-positive addicts, 64 percent said they were infected through sharing drug solution with others, the survey showed.

Another 17 percent said they contracted HIV from prostitutes.

When asked about changes in the drug scene over the past three years, 28 percent of drug-addicted respondents reported a decrease in drug supply, 21 percent reported a steep increase in drug prices, 10 percent reported a rise in the number of drug addicts sharing solution and 10 percent reported a rise in the number of drug addicts sharing needles.

Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) showed that sharing needles had replaced homosexual intercourse as the main form of HIV transmission in Taiwan and that there has been a rapid increase in the number of reported cases of HIV-positive drug addicts over the past three years.

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