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HIV Prevalence High Among Injection Drug Users

Injection drug use common worldwide

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Although the data is limited, injection drug use occurs in most countries and the prevalence of HIV among injection drug users is over 40 percent in some cases, according to a report published online Sept. 24 in The Lancet.

Bradley M. Mathers, from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues systematically reviewed the available data on the global prevalence of injection drug use and HIV among injection drug users aged 15 to 64 years old. Data on injection drug use was available within approximately the last decade for 148 countries, although the extent was available largely outside Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, and the prevalence of HIV among injection drug users was available for 120 of these countries.

The researchers were able to estimate the prevalence of injection drug use for 61 countries representing 77 percent of the global 15- to 64-year-old population. They estimated that 15.9 million people worldwide might inject drugs. China, the United States and Russia had the most injection drug users with HIV prevalence rates among injectors of 12 percent, 16 percent and 37 percent, respectively. However, the prevalence of injection drug use and HIV varied widely by country. About 3 million injection drug users worldwide might be HIV positive, the authors estimate, with some countries having prevalences over 40 percent.

"The one optimistic aspect of this rather gloomy situation is that, if HIV-prevention efforts are implemented on a large scale when prevalence is low in injecting drug users, it is possible to avert HIV epidemics in users," Kamyar Arasteh, Ph.D., and Don C. Des Jarlais, Ph.D., from Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, write in an accompanying editorial.

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