12 April 2009 - The Afghan Minister of Public Health H.E. Mohammad Amin Fatehmi and the UNODC Representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu launched the sub-regional project for the provision of comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and care services to Afghan refugee drug users in Iran and Pakistan and returnees in Afghanistan.
The increased availability of heroin has changed drug use patterns in Afghanistan and neighboring countries from traditional opium smoking and oral consumption to drug injection. This creates greater potential for HIV transmission through the sharing of injecting equipment. The high risk of an HIV outbreak among drug users in Afghanistan has been indicated recently at the former Russian Culture Center in Kabul, which has become the biggest provisional drug treatment facility in the country and is mainly inhabited by returnees from Pakistan and Iran.
The sub-regional initiative will establish a collaborative mechanism among the governments of the three countries and will involve close cooperation with the Ministries of Counter Narcotics and Refugees and Repatriation as well as UNHCR, IOM and UNAIDS. It will enable the provision of comprehensive HIV services for Afghan refugees, helping to reduce the individual and social harm of drug use from compounding the trials of migration.