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Int J Drug Policy. 2010 Jul;21(4):289-95. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.11.008. Epub 2009 Dec 29.

Opportunities for enhancing and integrating HIV and drug services for drug using vulnerable populations in South Africa.

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  • 1Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Unit, Medical Research Council, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa.



Little has been done to improve the integration of drug use and HIV services in sub-Saharan Africa where substance use and HIV epidemics often co-exist.


Data were collected using rapid assessment methods in two phases in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria, South Africa. Phase I (2005) comprised 140 key informant and focus group drug using interviewees and 19 service providers (SPs), and Phase 2 (2007) comprised 69 drug using focus group interviewees and 11 SPs.


Drug users put themselves at risk for HIV transmission through various drug-related sexual practices as well as through needle sharing. Drug users in both phases had limited knowledge of the availability of drug treatment services, and those that had accessed treatment identified a number of barriers, including affordability, stigma and a lack of aftercare and reintegration services. SPs identified similar barriers. Drug users displayed a general awareness of both HIV transmission routes and prevention strategies, but the findings also indicated a number of misperceptions, and problematic access to materials such as condoms and safe injection equipment. Knowledge around HIV treatment was low, and VCT experiences were mixed. SPs recognized the importance of integrating HIV and substance use services, but barriers such as funding issues, networking/referral gaps and additional burden on staff were reported in Phase 2.


A comprehensive, accessible, multi-component intervention strategy to prevent HIV risk in drug users needs to be developed including community outreach, risk reduction counselling, VCT and substance use treatment.

Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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