New research to provide data on risk behavior among most vulnerable young people
SARAJEVO, Bosnia & Herzegovina, 9 May 2007 – With funding support from the Swedish International Development Agency and IrishAid, UNICEF launched a bio-behavioral study among injecting drug users (IDUs) on 7 May in Sarajevo, Zenica and Banja Luka. The study will be conducted in collaboration with local NGOs, and will gather valuable data on patterns of risk behavior, as well as the prevalence of HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis among young people who are injecting drug users.
Estimates of the size of these populations in each of these three towns will be made and will be used to assist in the formulation of programmatic interventions to address this issue and to provide the needed support to these most-at-risk groups. The study findings will be crucial for further monitoring and evaluation of response efficiency.
Little is known about the behaviour of injecting drug users in the country. The risk of HIV transmission through the sharing of non-sterile injecting equipment is very high, as has been proven globally. There is an opportunity in Bosnia and Herzegovina to reduce the spread of HIV by learning more about the risk-related behaviours of vulnerable young people and designing appropriate, effective prevention activities targeted to their behaviour patterns.
Specific monitoring sites set for the purpose of this study will be opened for a three-month period to establish a direct link with participants. The participants in the study found to be positive for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or syphilis will be referred to relevant medical services for treatment. This will improve their health conditions and life expectancy. The study hopes to reach at least 260 IDUs in each town.
The data from this study will help to strengthen the Government’s efforts to monitor trends in the spread of diseases and to design risk-reduction programmes more effectively. The results from the study will be linked with the on-going HIV-prevention programme being implemented with a financial allocation from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The continuation of this programme is conditional upon the provision of baseline data on populations exhibiting risk behaviours, such as IDUs. UNICEF’s activities are, therefore, directly supporting the Government’s efforts to implement a $12-million HIV-prevention programme.
For additional information, please contact:
Dr Ranko Petrovic, UNICEF BIH, Sarajevo, Kolodvorska 6