HIV testing, care, and treatment among women who use drugs from a global perspective: progress and challenges

Lisa Metsch, Morgan M. Philbin, Carrigan Parish, Karen Shiu, Jemima A. Frimpong, Le Minh Giang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article reviews data on HIV testing, treatment, and care outcomes for women who use drugs in 5 countries across 5 continents. We chose countries in which the HIV epidemic has, either currently or historically, been fueled by injection and non-injection drug use and that have considerable variation in social structural and drug policies: Argentina, Vietnam, Australia, Ukraine, and the United States. There is a dearth of available HIV care continuum outcome data [ie, testing, linkage, retention, antiretroviral therapy (ART) provision, viral suppression] among women drug users, particularly among noninjectors. Although some progress has been made in increasing HIV testing in this population, HIV-positive women drug users in 4 of the 5 countries have not fully benefitted from ART nor are they regularly engaged in HIV care. Issues such as the criminalization of drug users, HIV-specific criminal laws, and the lack of integration between substance use treatment and HIV primary care play a major role. Strategies that effectively address the pervasive factors that prevent women drug users from engaging in HIV care and benefitting from ART and other prevention services are critical. Future success in enhancing the HIV continuum for women drug users should consider structural and contextual level barriers and promote social, economic, and legal policies that overhaul the many years of discrimination and stigmatization faced by women drug users worldwide. Such efforts must emphasis the translation of policies into practice and approaches to implementation that can help HIV-infected women who use drugs engage at all points of the HIV care continuum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S162-S168
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
StatePublished - 2015


  • Drug use
  • Global
  • HIV care continuum
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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