Wednesday, January 17, 2007

中時電子報|焦點新聞|愛滋新增感染者 首度負成長

Fascinating Statistics: HIV, Drugs, and Needles

The China Times had some fascinating statistics in a story today about how the number of new HIV infections in Taiwan has dropped for the first time ever.

Number of new reported infections in 2006: 2,942
Number of new reported infections in 2005: c. 3,300
Total reported infections (Taiwanese): 13, 103

Percentage of new infections from intravenous drug use in 2006: 60%
Percentage of from intravenous drug use in 2005: 73%
Estimated number of heroin addicts in Taiwan: 60,000 to 100,000
Number of needle distribution centers: 730
Number of clean needles distributed by government so far: more than 450,000
Average monthly cost of a heroin habit: NT$40,000
Average doses per week: 7
Hospitals with methadone programs: 19

Number of people imprisoned in Taiwan: 60,000
Number of people imprisoned on drug charges: 40,000
Number of HIV positive inmates: c. 6,000

The Liberty Times ran a similar story with a little partisan sniping at the end. The Center for Disease Control, a national agency, complained that Taipei City was not doing its part in the CDC's nationwide HIV harm reduction program that distributes the needles.

The Taipei City Health Department agreed that Taipei isn't distributing enough needles. They said that the Taipei police are rigorously enforcing regulations requiring that suspected users have their urine tested. This makes heroin users afraid of being identified if they go to needle distribution points in Taipei.

Incredibly, Tainan County intends to launch a pilot program to sell hypodermic needles in convenience stores. Way to go Tainan!

On the negative side, the incredibly high number of people locked up for drug offenses shows that Taiwan is yet another country losing the war on drugs and wasting taxpayer money by incarcerating people who are sick.

1 comment:

Rank Beginner said...

I attended a press briefing on AIDS in December. One of the angles foreign correspondents were exploring was: Is AIDS being transmitted in prisons? All panelists (CDC, academics, care givers) agreed that this is simply not happening ... a silver lining of sorts.