Ashim Roy, Lela Shengelia and Hans B Dupont
A concentrated HIV epidemic has already occurred in male Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in central Bangladesh. The prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus and sexually transmitted infections are high in IDUs indicating their practices of risk behaviour. To prevent further HIV spread in the country, assuring human rights of IDUs is a high priority. IDUs’ universal access to harm minimization services has been evidenced effective to prevention and control of HIV spread in IDUs; for example, in the Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Indonesia, China and other countries. The obscurity between Narcotics Control Acts and national harm reduction strategy hinders its active functioning and achievement in Bangladesh. To control further HIV spread from and within IDUs, the following strategies needs to be considered as priority concern:
Integrated harm reduction programmes for IDUs having free needle-syringe exchange, oral drug substitution, e.g. with Methadone, condom distribution, health education, and rehabilitation should be implemented countrywide.
Public-private partnership for harm reduction services and cooperation between service provider and law enforcement agency should be ensured in wider scales.
Intersectoral collaboration to decriminalize drug addicts is a high priority.