According to available statistics, there are over 300,000 drug addicts in Sri Lanka. This situation needs constant monitoring as this could lead to an increase in HIV cases, National HIV/AIDS Prevention Project ICE Coordinator Dr. Shantha Hettiarachchi said.
The situation had aggravated as most of the drug users forced their wives to engage in the intimacy trade to earn additional money for their quota of drugs, he explained.
`Most of these women engage in unprotected intimacyual relationship with their clients and they are prone to intimacyually transmitted diseases as a result`, he said.
They were a high risk group in contacting HIV.
A recent survey conducted in a rehabilitation centre, where 350 drug users are being treated, revealed that most of the users were in the age groups of 20 to 50 years and were occupied. However, due to their high spending many have forced their wives to work as intimacy workers. A majority spend over Rs. 5,000 to 15,000 monthly on drugs.
`This is a sad situation as the country is unable to get the maximum productivity of these drug users and also it has become a social problem due to broken families. We need to take steps to rehabilitate them and to provide employment opportunities to enable them to lead a normal life with dignity`, Dr. Hettiarachchi stressed.
According to estimates, there are over 30,000 intimacy workers in the country. However, the actual number is much higher than this, he said. `We need to introduce a behavioural change and enhance family relationship to facilitate our efforts in reducing this number`, he added.