UNODC Iran supports enhancing a scientific based approach on ATS and HIV
The use of Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) has been growing fast in the Islamic Republic of Iran during the last few years. Apart from the burden of using this substance on the drug treatment and public health system, one of the most important concerns is the relation between the use of ATS and HIV infection. Although the most prevalent route of ATS use in Iran is smoking, most recently there have been reports of ATS users starting to use injections. The problem is further compounded by the fact that ATS users are known to be involved in risky sexual behaviors, like sex without using condoms, multiple sexual partners, group sex, etc.
The Iranian National Center on Addiction Studies (INCAS) has been UNODC-Iran partner in implementing some research activities. INCAS holds monthly seminars on different issues for medical practitioners. On 22 nd of December 2011, INCAS held a seminar on the subject of "Sexual Aspects of ATS use" with the support of UNODC-Iran. Dr Azarakhsh Mokri, the Educational Deputy of INCAS, opened the seminar by emphasizing the need for medical practitioners to further their knowledge on sexual risks related to the use of ATS. Then, Dr Pouria Jourghanian, ATS therapist, presented a summary of achievements of a study visit to Czech Republic on 'ATS harm reduction activities', which was organized by UNODC Iran under the project of UNAIDS Programme Acceleration Funds, 2011. Dr Rabert Farnam, psychiatrist and researcher in the field of substance abuse delivered a speech on "Compulsive Sex", which is considered one of the sexual disorders associated to the use of ATS.
UNODC-Iran also participated to the event: First, Dr Setareh Mohsenifar, HIV/AIDS advisor, talked about the need of harm reduction counseling for all ATS users. In her speech, she presented the key elements of a possible Risk Reduction Plan with special emphasis on ATS. Then, Dr Gelareh Mostashari, UNODC-Iran's Drug Demand Reduction senior expert, delivered a presentation on the sexual routes of HIV transmission. The last speech was presented by Dr Mokri on the subject of "Sexual Impulsion", one of the most risky sexual disorders common among those who use ATS.
In the framework of its country program 2011-2014, UNODC Iran has planned a number of activities related to ATS, including the articulation and production of packages on psychological methods of treatment and the organization of seminars and expert group meetings on ATS treatment and HIV prevention in ATS users. In November 2011, UNODC organized a roundtable to discuss pharmacological and psychological treatments for ATS abuse with the participation of experts from the government, the private sector, and NGOs.
"The level of scientific research in the Islamic Republic of Iran in the area of drug addiction is quite advanced. I am pleased to see that Iranian medical practitioners are increasingly focusing their attention on the problem of ATS use." said Mr. Antonino De Leo, UNODC Country Representative in Iran.