HIV & Injection Drug Use: Trends & Learning Lessons

While there has been a measurable decline in the number of new HIV cases throughout the United States, pockets of newly-infection people continue to persist, especially in high-risk groups. Injecting drug users (IDUs) are among those that are at increased risk for acquiring HIV because of their drug use practices and sexual behaviors. Further complicating matters is that a substantial number of IDUs are living in major urban areas where HIV prevalence is already documented to be high; many of them may also be unaware of their HIV-infection status. Since 2004, the CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS) has monitored disease-associated behaviors among groups considered at high risk for acquiring the virus, including IDUs. In the 2009 IDU cycle, HIV testing was also conducted to provide the first IDU prevalence data in over a decade. During 1993-1997, results from a different CDC survey found prevalence of HIV among IDUs who entered drug treatment centers in the U.S. ranged from 1% to 37%; the overall prevalence was 18%. In the March 2, 2012 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, new data was released on information from 10,073 IDUs from 20 cities in 2009; 9% tested positive for HIV. Troubling New Trends in HIV Although the number of HIV infections among IDUs dropped by half over the past decade, the NHBS data showed that testing rates for the virus also decreased. The CDC recommends individuals at high risk get tested for HIV at least annually, but only 49% of IDUs who were interviewed in 2009 reported being tested in the last year. Only 19% reported participating in an HIV behavioral intervention....