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Drugs, Human Trafficking and Prisons Linked AIDS Explosion

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New York (dpa) - The AIDS explosion in some countries can be traced to illegal drug injection, human trafficking and overcrowded prisons, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Wednesday in an annual study on the relationship between drugs and violence.

Evidence of the link was to be presented Thursday at a ministerial meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, organized by the UNAIDS office. UNODC Director Antonio Maria Costa and ministers from Southern African governments are to attend.

"The most frightening development has been the explosive spread of HIV/AIDS," Costa said from his office in Vienna. "Once the virus enters the drug-user community, it spreads rapidly, reaching, in some cases, an infection rate of more than 80 per cent in less than six months."

He said AIDS can be spread at the same rate among victims of human trafficking and inmates in overcrowded prisons who share drugs and needles and engage in sex.

The United Nations said there are about 12.6 million injecting drug users in the world, and in some regions, up to 80 per cent of them are HIV positive. It said the majority of AIDS cases in Vietnam, Myanmar (Burma), Russia, Ukraine and Indonesia are injecting drug users.

It estimated that there are more than a million people caught up in human trafficking who are forced into prostitution.

Copyright 2004 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH


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