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Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) and HIV statistics
Sep 10, 1998

what is the percentage of people contacting aids/hiv through dirty needles?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. Let me show you some statistics to give you a general idea of the percentage of people who have become infected with HIV specifically through sharing IV drug needles. These statistics do not include people who became infected by having sex with Injecting Drug Users (IDUs).

In the United States:

From 1981 until 1997, for all cases of AIDS reported, 26% were IDUs who became infected through sharing IV drug needles. In addition to this, 6% of AIDS cases were among IDUs who were also homosexual/bisexual men. Therefore, a total of 32% of all AIDS cases in the United States were among IDUs.

For 1997 alone, 24% of AIDS cases were IDUs who became infected through sharing IV drug needles. In addition to this, 4% of cases were among IDUs who were also homosexual/bisexual men. Therefore, a total of 28% of all AIDS cases in the United States in 1997 were among IDUs.

Remember that for AIDS statistics, a person does not usually come down with full-blown AIDS until an average of 10 years after infection with the HIV virus.

For HIV cases who do not yet have AIDS, we only have limited data, since not all states currently have HIV reporting. Based on preliminary data, for the period January 1994 to June 1997, in the 25 states (out of 50 states) that had HIV reporting during this time period, 18% of all new HIV cases were among IDUs, and an additional 4% were among IDUs who were also homosexual/bisexual men. Therefore a total of 22% of HIV cases were among IDUs. Remember that the HIV data shown here is preliminary, and only represents half of the states. These data must therefore be interpreted with caution.

Worldwide

Based on 1992 data, it has been estimated that there were over 5 million people worldwide who injected drugs. It is very difficult to determine how many of these people were infected with HIV. However, it has been estimated that at least half of Injecting Drug Users who die each year (perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 each year), died as a result of HIV infection. That number may be higher today. The rate of HIV cases among IDUs varies significantly from country to country. In most countries, the majority people with HIV became infected through sexual contact. However, in some countries, more people are currently becoming infected through IV drug use, than through sexual contact (for example Malaysia, Vietnam, Belarus, and Russia).

A good summary of HIV and Injecting Drug Users from a global perspective, can be found in the Report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic - June 1998.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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