Considerable evidence indicates that intravenous drug users are emerging as the group at greatest risk for both acquiring and spreading human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Thus, all possible methods to control the spread of HIV infection in intravenous drug users should be explored. Key recommendations are that HIV antibody testing of intravenous drug users should be voluntary, because mandatory testing is counterproductive; free distribution of needles and syringes to intravenous drug users should occur only in carefully controlled circumstances to determine its effectiveness in decreasing infection rates; and drug-free and methadone maintenance treatment programs should be available on demand to all intravenous drug users as a means of reducing the spread of HIV infection. At present, the primary strategy for prevention must be education resulting in behavioral change. Education is currently the only definitive means for controlling the spread of HIV infection among intravenous drug users, their sex contacts, and to fetuses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine