Azerbaijan to introduce program to reduce harm of drugs
Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec.01 / Trend , K, Zerbaliyeva/
A program to reduce drug addiction and help HIV-infected individuals will soon be introduced in Azerbaijan, MP Musa Guliyev told Trend Dec. 1.
"Sixty-five percent of 2,500 HIV-infected people registered in Azerbaijan contracted the disease through intravenous drug use," Guliyev said. "With the introduction of this program methadone will be given to patients to help them conquer their addiction. The introduction of the program is considered in a new bill prepared to help the fight against AIDS."
Dec. 1 was declared World AIDS Day by the WHO in 1988.
Everyday roughly 18,000 people worldwide are infected with HIV.
Although Azerbaijan is among countries with low levels of HIV infection, the problem is real, the MP said.
According to the Health Ministry, 220 new cases of HIV were reported in the country in the first six months of 2009.
Anti-retroviral drugs are free at the Republican Center for Fighting AIDS. Over 250 patients receive treatment. Fifty-eight began treatment in the fist half of 2009.
According to Guliyev, AIDS patients can receive these drugs at clinics where they are registered.
According to the MP, the psychological dependence of drug addicts will be eliminated through the introduction of such a program.
The government will apply a humanistic attitude toward AIDS patients in the new law. Those who discriminate against HIV-infected individuals will be taken to court, the MP said.
According to the MP, the new bill also envisages distributing syringes and contraception to HIV-infected prisoners.
Guliyev added that the new bill also reflects issues related to labor migrants.
A number of Azerbaijani labor migrants live in Russia and Ukraine where HIV is more widely spread.
"Individuals who are in these countries searching for jobs often contract the virus. Their family members are recommended to have checkups and use protection," the MP said.
Plans also include introducing HIV-awareness courses at secondary and higher educational institutions.
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