Concern over drug use by HIV+ people in Athens

Concern over drug use by HIV+ people in Athens

Health experts are concerned about an increase in the number of intravenous drug users in Athens who are HIV positive, with the rate currently standing at 22 percent compared to 14.3 percent in 2011 and just 1 percent in 2001.

Angelos Hatzakis and Vana Sypsa, epidemiologists at Athens University who coordinated a program for diagnosing HIV among intravenous drug users in the city, cited many reasons for the increase. 

These include the scaling back of a program to distribute clean needles and syringes to users and the problems that users have in accessing state health services along with the social stigma they face.

Societal factors also aggravate the problem. The number of homeless intravenous drug users that are HIV positive has increased to 25.6 percent from 17.2 percent in 2013.

 “The increase in the prevalence is the biggest that has been seen worldwide over the past 10 years,” the professors noted. 

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