Publication: Glue Sniffing and Other Risky Practices Among Street Children in Urban Bangladesh

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Ahsan, Karar Zunaid
Claeson, Mariam
The inhalation of solvents among children and adolescents for recreational purposes has been a long standing problem in the developed world, although it is an emerging issue in South Asia, especially in urban areas. This study explores the linkage between glue sniffing and other drug use and high risk practices related to increased vulnerability and risk for HIV and AIDS in Bangladesh and also documents the serious health effects of glue sniffing. Although Bangladesh has an overall low prevalence of HIV, it is facing a concentrated HIV epidemic among injecting drug users. There is a risk that young children who inhale glue may also be more likely to use other drugs, and that this early introduction to drugs lead to injecting drug habits, associated with increased risk for transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted diseases. This study aimed at assessing the nature of drug use and other risky practices among street children aged 11 to 19 years in Dhaka and Chittagong, the two major metropolises of Bangladesh. The study highlights the vulnerability of street children in general and the problems they face on the streets, primarily due to their lack of social protection. Inhalation of glue and use of other substances like cannabis and pharmaceuticals, smoking and chewing tobacco, were found to be prevalent among these children. They were also found to be sexually active early and most of them were engaged in unprotected sex, most girls selling sex, and most boys reporting low condom use. Although this study was not designed to determine a direct causal link between early solvent abuse, injecting drug use and HIV, the study shows an association between glue sniffing, injecting drug use and other risky sexual practices, which amplifies the risk for HIV among these children, making the case for intervening early.
Mahmud, Iffat; Ahsan, Karar Zunaid; Claeson, Mariam. 2011. Glue Sniffing and Other Risky Practices Among Street Children in Urban Bangladesh. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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