AIDS Health Education for Intravenous Drug Users

Samuel R. Friedman, Don C. Des Jarlais, Jo L. Sotheran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intravenous (IV) drug users are the second largest risk group for AIDS and the main source of infection for heterosexual partner and pediatric AIDS cases. IV drug users have an addiction and a subculture that make risk reduction difficult; for example, to refuse to share needles can endanger personal relationships, and carrying clean works (rather than renting them in a shooting gallery) risks arrest. In New York City, at least, knowledge about AIDS transmission is widespread among IV drug users, and most drug injectors report having changed their drug use practices to reduce their risks. The main functions of health education in areas where IV drug users have this level of knowledge are to disseminate news of new discoveries; reach those drug users who have not yet learned AIDS basics; reinforce what is already known; and provide in formation about new programs to help drug users deal with AIDS-related problems. To encourage behavior change requires going beyond simple education, however; it entails trying to change IV drug user subculture. Drug user groups in the Netherlands and in New York City are attempting to do this from within the subculture. Outside intervention requires repeated messages from multiple sources; face-to-face, interactive communication; and perhaps the use of ex-addicts as health educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-393
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Education & Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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