Palestinian Ministry of Health launches
bio-behavioural HIV study in West Bank
4 March 2014, Ramallah, West Bank - The Palestinian Ministry of Health, with WHO technical support in oPT, launched a bio-behavioural HIV study at a Ramallah dissemination workshop held on 20 February 2014. Eighty-five health and drug experts from UN agencies, West Bank universities, Palestinian ministries, community organizations and study participants attended. The study, carried out in October 2013, had enlisted 288 injecting drug users (IDUs) in three West Bank governorates in order to understand the epidemiological pattern in this low-prevalence setting specifically to assess the prevalence of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C and relevant risk-taking behaviours. The study was carried out by an international consultant from the WHO Hub in Croatia, with facilitation by local nongovernmental organizations.
Of the study participants, 69.0% reported primary education or less, and 59.7% were married. Heroin was the most common drug injected (79.4%), followed by cocaine (7.9%). There were no HIV+ cases, but 40.6% of study participants were positive for hepatitis C and 6.6% were positive for hepatitis B. WHO conducted a study in 2010 among a similar population in Jerusalem where there is a different social context.