- Published on 13 December 2012
Iraq reports that no major drug problem exists in the country. Substance-related disorders are reported to be rare and prescription drugs have been the most common drugs of choice (Alhasnawi, et al., 2009; Iraq MoH, 2012). Prescription drugs are the main drugs of injection. However, the country reports that the number of narcotic drug addicts is slowly increasing (Iraq MoH, 2012). Evidence, including hospital records and observations of the experts, suggests that drug use has increased in recent years. Smoking of Opium is fairly common near the Iran-Iraq border in Najaf and Karbala (Aqrawi, et al., 2009). In-patient and out-patient detoxification is available in several centers, mainly in the public sector, but most drug users prefer to be treated by psychiatrists in the private sector (Iraq MoH, 2012).
Iraq has a low HIV prevalence in the general population. Key at risk populations are not screened and have not been studied (Iraq MoH, 2012). HIV surveillance does not include DUs or PWIDs. The country reports that no case of HIV positive injecting drug user has been found. From identified HIV cases, 66% have been hemophilic patients (Iraq MoH, 2012).
In 2005, the NASP was developed, but never implemented. The program had not foreseen targeted HIV prevention for at risk groups (Iraq MoH, 2012). NGOs are not involved in providing such services. Working on stigma and discrimination against at risk groups and PLHIV remains a priority and is crucial for developing policies and allowing them to reach targeted interventions. There are no OST and NSP services in the country. However, almost 100 centers are providing HIV testing all over the country and the number of these centers is constantly increasing (Iraq MoH, 2012). ART is available and the country reports coverage of all identified PLHIV in need (Iraq MoH, 2012).
Iraq has gone through major conflicts, political changes and socioeconomic problems in last decade. The country has not received major support from external bodies for the development of HIV prevention, treatment and care services. The country is currently updating the National AIDS Strategy and acknowledges that many factors may contribute to an increased spread of HIV in the near future (Iraq MoH, 2012).