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HIV Risk among Individuals Who Inject Drugs (IDU)

Read the Full Report on HIV Risk Behaviors among IDU

HIV Risk Prevention Behaviors among People Who Inject Drugs

One of the three populations most at risk for HIV is individuals who inject drugs (referred to as IDU).

While HIV infection among IDU in Denver is relatively low (around 5%), it is important to remember that HIV can be transmitted via needle and paraphernalia sharing during injection drug use. The per-act probability of acquiring HIV from an infected source via needle-sharing is 63 per 10,000 exposures.

Trends in IDU Risk Behavior in Denver

Among individuals who inject drugs in the Denver metro area, risk behaviors appear to be decreasing. Specifically, fewer IDU are reporting using non-sterile syringes or needles, dividing drugs with a used syringe or needle, and using cookers, water or cotton after someone else.

Syringe exchange programs appear to be having an impact on the availability of sterile syringes in the Denver metro area. Syringe exchange programs can be an effective component of a comprehensive strategy to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections (such as Hepatitis C) in communities that adopt them. The Harm Reduction Action Center has more information on syringe exchange in Denver.

Despite decreasing risk behaviors and better access to sterile syringes, HIV prevalence may be increasing among IDU (4.7% in 2009 to 6.0% in 2012 among those tested as part of NHBS in Denver). There is a need to increase HIV testing opportunities for individuals who inject drugs and refocus prevention efforts.

How to Use this Information to Reduce HIV Infection in Denver


Contact NHBS at Denver Public Health

Denver Public Health

Administration and Community Programs

601 Broadway

Denver, CO 80203-3407

Alia Al-Tayyib, PhD
(303) 602-3601

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