Preventing inhalant abuse among children and adolescents
We are working with partners in Kolkata to combat inhalant abuse among street children. Of the 200,000 children in Kolkata who are homeless, one percent are HIV-positive but are not aware of the fact that they are carrying the deadly virus. This is likely to result in a significant increase in HIV levels. Inhalant abuse among children and adolescents is becoming a serious global public health problem, particularly in developing countries, and often leads to use of injecting drugs. In India, widespread poverty, unemployment and increasing urban migration contribute to the growing number of children living on the streets and falling victim to malnutrition, disease, harassment and sexual abuse. A disproportionate number of these children use drugs and engage in survival sex as coping mechanisms.
Project components include (i) prevalence study of inhalant abuse, patterns and trends, and awareness levels; (ii) socio-economic profile of inhalant abusers; (iii) group dynamics; (iv) health status; (v) financing solvent and drug abuse; (vi) knowledge of HIV/AIDS and associated risks; and (vii) access to treatment and rehabilitation.
A comprehensive approach is needed to prevent addiction among children and adolescents, and in particular among street children. Key elements in a preventive strategy include health services, long term rehabilitation centers, public awareness, and strong government policies combating inhalant abuse.
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