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Most Bali HIV/AIDS Cases Due to Infected Needles

Authorities Point to Prevalent Use of Illicit Intravenous Drugs as Cause of Island's HIV/AIDS Epidemic.

(4/24/2005) The National Narcotic Agency(BNN) counts 4,389 cases of HIV/AIDS in Indonesia attributable to the use of intravenous drugs.

The national epidemic of drug use and the resultant cases of HIV/AIDS sees Bali claiming the largest share (53%) of HIV/AIDS infections due to intravenous drug use, followed by Jakarta (48%), East Java (43.3%) and West Java (38.7%).

Speaking at a training course for police officers assigned to combating narcotics in Jakarta on Monday, April 18, 2005, Drs. Sutanto, the policeman assigned as Chief of the BNN, described the statistics on HIV/AIDS cases attributable to intravenous drug use as just "the tip of the iceberg" with many more cases of infection remaining undetected.

Describing the illicit use of narcotics as a serious threat to the Nation, Officer Sutanto said that 1.5%, or an estimated 3.6 million of all Indonesians are illegal drug users. Of that total, 69% are regular drug abusers with 31% officially classified as addicts.

The Scope of the Problem

National police statistics show that narcotics cases handled by the police increased 290% over the past 5 years, or an average 58% per year. The cost of illegal drug use costs the Indonesian economy an estimated Rp. 23.6 trillion (approximately US$2.5 billion) and causes at least 15,000 premature deaths each year.

The just released statistics from BNN on illegal drug use in Bali have caught some local observers off-guard who previously estimated only 93 narcotic users in Bali in 2004.

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the higher rate of HIV/AIDS infections in Bali among narcotic's user is due to the island dubious honor of serving as an international transit point for the word-wide illegal narcotic's trade.