At the Fann Hospital in Dakar, a specialized service offers an opiate substitution therapy program for drug addicts. Commonly known as CEPIAD, it is a walk-in clinic aimed at reducing the spread of HIV, as opioids are painkillers often linked to needle sharing and unprotected sex, two high risk factors for HIV. HIV. 250 people are currently undergoing treatment.
“Methadone is a drug that acts as a substitute for heroin. In our case, it is a syrup dosed in portions of 10 mg/ml. The doses vary from patient to patient.”explains Mangane Bouthia, pharmacist.
In Senegal, people who inject drugs are more than four times more likely to contract HIV. More than three quarters of CEPIAD patients are men, but the center targets women because the prevalence of HIV is higher among them. Mariama Ba Thiam is a recovering drug addict and peer educator, “I go out into the community and visit my peers to make them aware of stopping drugs and reducing their consumption, I refer them to CEPIAD, so that they can, like me, stop taking drugs”.
CEPIAD has also become a screening and diagnostic center for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis. Along with psychosocial support, it encourages professional development and organizes courses such as soap making, painting or gardening. Something that helped El Hadj Diallo, “Gardening is a type of therapy. When we are here, we forget our problems.confides the former drug addict while taking care of his plants.
Drug use is a criminal offense in Senegal, but CEPIAD enjoys the support of the government and various international organizations such as UNAIDS and the Global Fund.
In a report released this week, UNAIDS urges governments to do more against HIV. The international organization said policies had not moved forward due to the COVID pandemic. UNAIDS also showed that globally, the number of new infections fell by just 3.6% between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual decline in new HIV infections since 2016.
“Ultimately, ending AIDS would cost a lot less than not ending AIDS. It is important to note that the actions needed to end AIDS are also essential to overcoming other pandemics.said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at a July 27 press conference.
UNAIDS launched this report just before the opening of the International AIDS Conference in Canada, which runs until 2 August.