HIV/AIDS and Drug Addiction: Vulnerability of Street Teenagers


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The developing countries in the eastern part of the globe are facing a new challenge – controlling the spread of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS amongst street teenagers. Such children, who are on the street deprived of any guidance and affection, are at a risk of substance abuse and HIV/AIDS contraction. The difficult circumstances under which they live make drug abuse and sexual exploitation inevitable parts of their lives.

Street children are abjectly neglected and are mostly considered as a nuisance to the society. They are an extremely mobile population who are abused at different levels. The threats of street life force them to conform to gangs where drug abuse and sexual activity are desired sources of pleasure. Lack of information regarding the issues is yet another curse which makes them even more vulnerable.

The Government and Non-government agencies have been trying hard to bring the situation under control. Dr.Nghyen Dang Phan of the Binh Dan hospital in Vietnam said that in 2004 and 2006 he had witnessed 85 HIV/AIDS patients die in Mai Khoi Charity Medical Centre of whom 93% were male drug users. Phan said 66% of the HIV positive people are infected through drug abuse and 18% through unsafe sexual practices. He was attending a seminar organized by the Centre for Applied Social Work of HCM City Open University to promote a healthy life for street teenagers. This was a part of the project launched by the university to help addicts quit their habit. The Director of the Department said that last September a group was formed with 15 former drug users who work as peer motivators encouraging other users to kick the habit.

Different NGOs in India are also working for the cause. Homes have been set up for these children. Education and Life Skills Training form integral parts of the different projects that are being run by different organizations that have proved to be extremely successful.

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