Mounting HIV Rates Among Drug Users

Researchers find a considerable increase in HIV infection among injecting drug users.

A report that has been published in the British medical journal The Lancet shows that almost 3 million self-injecting drug users in the world are HIV-positive.

More than 40% drug users are infected in nine countries. The authors of the report showed concern about the lack of data from African countries and said the risk factors were greater in the continent.

The researchers behind the study conducted a wide review of published data.

The researchers found that the number of injecting drug users and the occurrence of HIV infection in them were on increase and in most cases the virus spread by the use of shared needles.

In some countries of Latin America, South East Asia and Eastern Europe the rates of infection in self-injecting drug users were above 40% while in Estonia they were more than 72%.

However, the researchers also found that some countries maintained very low rates of infection. In some countries like Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand only 1.5% of self-injecting drug users were HIV positive.

The report urges to invest in HIV prevention programmes, particularly, in needle exchanges and drug substitution treatments.

In the countries, where injecting drug use is in rife but the virus has not yet spread in the users, more educational programmes are needed to prevent the spread of HIV infection.

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