Living with HIV/AIDS  

Injection Drug Use

When a person with HIV infection uses a syringe to inject drugs, the needle is contaminated with a small amount of infected blood. If the needle is shared, the next person to use it may inject the infected blood directly into his or her own blood stream (1, 2).

Injection drug use (IDU) accounts for only 5-10% of worldwide HIV infections since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, in some parts of the world, IDU is the major mode of HIV transmission (3). Since injecting drug users are often linked in tight social networks, and commonly share their injecting equipment without cleaning it, HIV often spreads very rapidly in these populations.

Injection drug use (IDU) associated AIDS describes people who contract HIV either by injecting drugs, or by having sex with people who inject drugs.

1. Chin. J. (Ed.) Communicable Diseases Manual, 17th Edition. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association. 2000.

2. Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). HIV Infection and AIDS: An Overview. National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, October 2003. Retrieved on January 14, 2004 from

3. Family Health International (FHI). Fact Sheet: Reducing HIV in Injecting Drug Users (IDU). Arlington, VA: Family Health International, 2003. Available online at

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug-Associated HIV Transmission Continues in the United States. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2002. Retrieved on January 13, 2004 from

5. DeCarlo, P., and Gibson, D.R. What are injection drug users (IDU) HIV prevention needs? San Francisco, California: UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and AIDS Research Institute, 2003. Available online at

6. United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). State of World Population 2003 Making 1 Billion Count: Investing in Adolescents’ Health and Rights. New York, NY: United Nations Population Fund, 2003.

© Sociometrics Corporation, 2004