HIV Infections Decline Among Injection Drug Users in Baltimore, Study Finds
The rate of new HIV infections among injection drug users in Baltimore, Md., has declined, according to a study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, Reuters Health reports. Johns Hopkins University researchers interviewed 1,532 injection drug users in Baltimore, all of whom were HIV-negative when the study began in 1988. After 10 years, 277 participants had contracted HIV. When comparing the rate of new infections at the beginning and end of the study, the researchers found the proportion of injection drug users contracting HIV dropped 12% per year. The study also found that injection drug users were less likely to share needles, possibly as a result of public health efforts such as needle exchange and awareness campaigns, Dr. Kenrad Nelson, the study's lead author, said. Despite the "encouraging findings," HIV infection remains a problem among injection drug users, and policymakers should take steps to increase access to clean needles and raise awareness of the link between injection drug use and HIV infection, Nelson said. He noted that new injection drug users may be at a higher risk for infection because they have less experience with the effects of HIV. Watching people "live -- and perhaps die" from an AIDS-related illness is a "powerful incentive" to avoid risky behavior, according to Nelson, Reuters Health reports (McCook, Reuters Health, 10/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.