In order to slow down the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases (i.e., Hepatitis C), the Kenyan government will begin distributing an estimated 8 million needles to citizens who use inject drugs. They will also provide HIV testing, antiretroviral drugs, condoms and medicines for tuberculosis. Each addict can expect to receive three needles and syringes per day.
In 2010 the Kenyan government decided on creating a needle distribution and prevention effort after deciding that injection drug use was a public health issue rather than a criminal matter.
“Research shows that encouraging IDUs to test for HIV, treating the addiction and the infection, and keeping the individuals in care, is a more successful strategy for preventing the spread of HIV than incarcerating addicts, as risk behaviors like needle-sharing often increase in prison.”
The first pilot program is set to begin in Mombasa, where the country is seeing its’ highest number of heroin. According to Dr.Anisa Omar, the Coast Provincial Director of Public Health and Sanitation, there are over 26,000 youths injecting drugs with at least one out of four HIV positive. Mombasa is also a major transit route for drug trafficking.
There are some religious and anti-drug groups that are against the plan citing that this will encourage drug users to distribute at a higher level and promote drug use.
Prevention of further spreading of a disease that has reached world-wide epidemic status is just as important as pushing for education and rehabilitation. Some believe that providing these needles is not the best way to go about resolving this problem, but if it isn’t offered then thousands of people will continue to be infected with HIV. I believe that comprehensive prevention and treatment programs should be spread throughout every city, town, and state of every nation to combat HIV.
If you inject drugs and need help with treatment, do not be afraid to call us 24/7 at 1-877-711-4673. Our crisis counselors have been there and can help you get on the road to recovery.