The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study on Thursday, March 1, 2012 stating fewer needle drug users are testing positive for HIV. A rate that is half as much since the 1990’s.
In 2009 U.S. Health official surveyed and tested for HIV to more than 10,000 drug users in 20 metropolitan areas. About 1 in 10 tested positive for the virus, compared to roughly 1 in 5 in the 1990s.
Although the HIV rate is down compared to the 90’s, the study revealed that only about one-half of those infected with HIV were aware of their condition.
Drug users who inject heroin, cocaine or other drugs have been the ones hit hardest by AIDS. The number of injection drug users who reported that they seek annual HIV testing decreased from 66 percent in 2006 to 49 percent in 2009.
Dr. Cyprian Wejnert, an epidemiologist who ran the study said, “Despite the fact that we’ve seen declines in new HIV infections, a substantial number of IDUs (injection drug users) in major U.S. cities are HIV-infected and their risk behavior remains fairly high. We found 9% of IDUs were HIV-positive and nearly half of those were unaware of their infection.”
HIV spreads through drug users who have unprotected sex and those who share needles. Needle exchange programs have helped reduce HIV because they provide clean needles to addicts. Needle exchange programs have grown from 70 in the mid-1990s to more than 180 in 2008.
The authors of the HIV study, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, noted, “HIV testing and linkage to care, prevention and care for HIV-infected [injection drug users] and access to new sterile syringes. Targeted, effective approaches to HIV prevention will help reduce the number of new HIV infections among this group.”
According to the CDC, about 1.2 million Americans have HIV and one in five U.S. adults are unaware of their infection.