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WHO warns state oppression of drug users fuelling AIDS rise
  Agence France-Presse - July 15, 2004
BANGKOK, July 15 (AFP) - The World Health Organisation warned aglobal AIDS summit here Thursday that countries barring drugusers from HIV treatment were potentially fuelling the world'sfastest growing AIDS epidemics.
In many developing countries up to 90 percent of all injectingdrug users are HIV positive, the organisation's global HIV/AIDSmanager Andrew Ball said at the 15th International AIDSConference.
"You are looking at huge numbers of injecting drug users who areinfected with HIV," he said, adding "that in most countries drug users are excluded from any sort of treatment."
"We estimate that worldwide there are 13 million injecting drug users of which about 10 million live in developing or transitional countries." Ball said.
More than 80 percent of Russia's one million addicts are estimated to have HIV as well as over half of all addicts in Central Asia, China, Eastern Europe, Iran, Pakistan and much of Southeast Asia, according to Ball.
He said the same alarming statistics now also applied to southern Latin America as well as a growing number of Western European countries, including Spain and Portugal.
The official said state-sanctioned discrimination was forcing addicts to share dirty needles and preventing them from diagnosing their conditions or seeking treatment or information.
Former heroin addict Mauro Guarinieri, who is HIV positive, said that there was currently one HIV transmission every minute among injecting drug users.
"All the countries where methadone is still illegal and where the law enforcement is the only response to drug use are exactly the same countries where prevalence among drug users are so high."
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