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NIDA. (2005, October 1). HIV/AIDS Research and Education Are Crucial to Drug Abuse Prevention. Retrieved from

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October 01, 2005

Behavior associated with drug abuse is the single largest factor in the spread of HIV infection in the United States, where about one-third of HIV/AIDS cases are related to injection drug abuse.

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NIDA's Web site, (discontinued), provides research-based information about HIV/AIDS and its relationship to drug abuse. A compendium of NIDA publications and public service announcements, the Web site is a valuable resource for care providers as well as parents and teens looking for information. Visitors to the site will find a list of drugs that are commonly abused, a phone number and Web site for treatment referrals, up-to-date research findings, and announcements in English and Spanish about special events.

Using or sharing drug paraphernalia such as unsterile needles, cotton swabs, rinse water, and cookers to inject heroin, cocaine, or other drugs places drug abusers at risk for contracting or transmitting HIV. Drug abuse without the use of needles and syringes can also foster the spread of HIV. Research sponsored by NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has shown that drug and alcohol use can interfere with judgment about sexual behavior and thereby affect the likelihood of engaging in unplanned and unprotected sex. This increases the risk for contracting HIV from infected sex partners.

In the past 15 years, NIDA has sponsored a comprehensive research program in response to the dynamic nature of the co-occurring epidemics of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. This research has yielded science-based principles that should prove useful to community planners, policymakers, service providers, and medical practitioners as they develop and implement programs to prevent the spread of HIV and other infections among injecting and noninjecting drug users and their sexual partners. To foster widespread use of these principles, NIDA has produced a number of publications, such as Principles of HIV/AIDS Prevention in Drug-Using Populations and The NIDA Community-Based Outreach Model: A Manual To Reduce the Risk of HIV and Other Blood-Borne Infections in Drug Users.

The Web site also offers the "Jack & Jill" public service announcements, which are geared toward teens and provide information about substance abuse and risky sexual behavior. "Jack & Jill" was the first installment in NIDA's "Keep Your Body Healthy" campaign, and deals with the connection between drug abuse and contracting HIV/AIDS. It has been estimated that at least half of all new HIV infections in the United States are among people under age 25, and most of these young people are infected sexually.

NIDA's Web sites help bring the Institute's research and policies to a wide audience; by disseminating material online, parents, teens, and providers have an accessible resource for the latest in drug abuse research.

AIDS Cases By Exposure Category and Sex Through 2002

Exposure Category Males Females Overall Total
No. % No. % No. %
Male-to-Male Sexual Contact 384,784 55 - - 384,784 55
Injection Drug Abuse 151,367 22 58,552 39 209,919 30
Heterosexual Contact 36,692 5 63,379 42 100,071 14

Source: CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report: Cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States, Vol. 14, 2002. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.