A doctor was prescribing methadone, a legal heroin substitute, to delegates struggling with withdrawal.
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At the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, a doctor is on duty to prescribe methadone, a legal heroin substitute, to delegates who might be struggling with withdrawal.One floor down, in a large advocacy space at the conference venue, counselors staff a "harm reduction" booth stacked with boxes upon boxes of sterile needles for intravenous drug users who may need them.This is a region where experts say oppressive drug laws are fuelling an HIV surge through the sharing of tainted needles.The center not only offers counseling, but also offers to test drugs, including heroin, for purity and safety.In the Netherlands, experts say, HIV transmission through intravenous drug use is extremely rare.Ingrid Bakker, one of the "harm reduction" advisers stationed at the conference, said about 20 people had made use of the service in the first three days.According to Ann Fordham, who leads the International Drug Policy Consortium, an advocacy network, there was a 30-percent increase in HIV among people who inject drugs worldwide between 2011 and 2015 .Less than one percent of people who inject drugs live in countries where needle exchange is available, she said.
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