HIV infects three million self-injecting drug users

September 24th, 2008 - 10:53 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 24 (IANS) Three million self-injecting drug users worldwide are possibly HIV positive, over 40 percent of them in nine countries, according to a new study. The countries are Estonia, Ukraine, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Argentina, Brazil and Kenya.

Bradley Mathers of National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney and colleagues from 2007 Reference Group to the UN on HIV and self-injecting drug use (SIDU), called for better data in view of the increasing importance of injecting drug use as a mode of HIV transmission in many regions.

This systematic review showed huge discrepancies worldwide. For example, in Britain, 0.39 percent of 15-64 year-olds are SIDUs, of which 2.3 percent are thought to be HIV positive. In Spain, this proportion of SIDUs is lower (0.31 percent), but the proportion of SIDUs with HIV is many times higher (39.7 percent).

In Australia 1.09 percent of 15-64 year-olds are IDUs, a relatively high number, however only 1.5 percent of them are HIV positive, reports Sciencealert. The findings were published online in The Lancet and will appear in its print version.

“Australia has a significant number of injecting drug users but has done very well in keeping HIV rates among injectors low,” said Mathers. “This is due largely to the implementation of effective HIV prevention programmes for injectors, rolled out in the early stages of the HIV epidemic.”

Other examples of country figures, with proportion of 15-64 year old SIDUs first and proportion of those who are HIV positive second are the US (0.96 percent/15.6 percent), Argentina (0.29 percent/49.7 percent), China (0.25 percent/12.3 percent), Ukraine (1.16 percent/41.8 percent), Russia (1.78 percent/37.2 percent) and Estonia (1.51 percent/72.1 percent).

In Europe, the highest proportions of SIDUs among 15-64 year-olds were in Italy (0.83 percent) and Switzerland (0.65 percent); while the highest figures for proportions of SIDUs that are HIV positive were Spain and Portugal (15.6 percent).

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