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Long, Jean (2008) Health promotion plan to address HIV. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 27, Autumn 2008 , pp. 19-20.

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On 17 June 2008 Mary Wallace TD, Minister for Health Promotion and Food Safety, launched the HIV and AIDS Education and Prevention Plan 2008–2012, presented by the Education and Prevention Sub-Committee of the National AIDS Strategy Committee.

The Minister said that she was pleased to mark Irish AIDS Day (15 June) with the launch of this plan which demonstrates the commitment of all key stakeholders to continuing and enhanced efforts to prevent HIV and AIDS. The plan was developed over an 18-month period and was the result of a review of the evidence and a national consultation process. It will build on the report of the National AIDS Strategy Committee (2000). Under six key action areas, the plan addresses the needs of seven high-risk population groups. Injecting drug users and prisoners are identified as two such groups.
 
Injecting drug users
According to the authors, ‘injecting is an even more effective way of spreading HIV than sexual intercourse. In most developed countries, including Ireland, the second most common transmission route for HIV is among men and women who inject drugs.’ In 2006, 2,104 of the 4,992 cases entering treatment in Ireland had injected an illicit drug at some point in their lives, of whom 59% had shared injecting equipment. The proportion of injecting drug users who engage in prostitution is unknown. 
 
In 2004 the World Health Organization acknowledged that needle-exchange programmes (which include proactive outreach and sexual health interventions) are extremely effective in reducing HIV transmission among injecting drug users.
 
The Plan recommends:
  • continued delivery of safer injecting and sex messages through drug treatment services, drugs task force projects and relevant non-governmental organisations;
  • actions to prevent drug users who do not currently inject from starting to do so;
  • interventions to increase testing, screening and treatment for HIV; and
  • completion of NACD research on sex work among drug users.
 
Prisoners
According to the authors, ‘prisoners' human rights must be respected under both national and international legislation. Prisoners need protection from contracting diseases and, if infected, from any form of discrimination. Efforts to prevent infections in prisons are beneficial for inmates, staff and the wider public. Studies in the 1980s found indications that extensive HIV transmission could occur in prisons and had the potential to affect the wider community.’ It is accepted that the use of drugs in prisons increases the risk of blood-borne infections. Although ‘prisoners may be injecting less frequently than when outside prison, each injection is far more risky due to the scarcity of injecting equipment and hence the greater prevalence of sharing syringes.’
 
The authors note that in order to protect prisoners from blood-borne viral infections, HIV and HCV preventative measures must be available in prisons. ‘Since the early 1990s, community needle and syringe programmes within the prison system in Europe have been evaluated and found to reduce the spread of HIV among injecting drug users without increasing drug injecting’ or needle stick injury. Other measures include the provision of appropriate broad-spectrum treatment interventions.
 
The Plan recommends:
  • delivery of HIV information to prisoners and staff;
  • provision of condoms to prisoners;
  • confidential and comprehensive HIV testing for prisoners who request it; and
  • review of current HIV and drug programmes with a view to linking them with similar HSE programmes.
1. Education and Prevention Sub-Committee of the National AIDS Strategy Committee (2008) HIV and AIDS education and prevention plan, 2008–2012. Dublin: Stationery Office.


 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 27, Autumn 2008
Date:2008
Page Range:pp. 19-20
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 27, Autumn 2008
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health-related prevention > Health information and education > Communicable disease control > HIV prevention
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Health-related prevention > Health information and education > Health promotion
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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