Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva addressing the United Nations HIV/AIDS Conference held yesterday at the UNO Headquarters in New York, said injecting drugs like heroin is very uncommon in Sri Lanka. There are 250,000 cannabis and 40,000 heroin addicts in the country.
Drug addicts in four main districts are being rehabilitated with the assistance of non-governmental organizations and the National STD/AIDS Control Programme, according to the Health Ministry.
A Health Ministry spokesman told The Island that with a population of 20 million Sri Lanka had identified an estimated 5,000 AIDS cases and only 957 have been identified as HIV positive.
The spokesman said that Minister de Silva had emphasized the dire need for voluntary counselling and screening of HIV suspected persons.
Minister de Silva had also pointed out that the ongoing conflict situation in the country had facilitated the spread of HIV infection because a large number of troops mobilized to serve in the operational areas were inclined to have sex with prostitutes at transit points. The sex industry had also flourished in these transit points.