This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published two reports presenting the HIV prevalence and risk behaviors data related to HIV transmission and prevention among people who inject drugs (PWID). The data are from the 2012 cycle of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) system. In total, 10,117 PWID were interviewed, of those, 10,002 were tested. The report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) presents weighted data on HIV prevalence and key behaviors that are intended to generalize the findings to the entire PWID population in the 20 cities that participate in NHBS. The DHAP Surveillance Report provides descriptive, unweighted data and is the first CDC report that presents HIV risk behaviors by three HIV infection categories — HIV-negative, HIV-positive-aware (PWID who are HIV positive and aware of infection), and HIV-positive-unaware (PWID who are HIV positive and are unaware of infection). Presenting data by HIV infection categories is important because risk behaviors are often associated with HIV infection category. For example, HIV-positive-aware individuals may modify their behaviors to prevent transmission to others.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report states that among people who inject drugs in the 20 NHBS cities, 11% were estimated to be living with HIV; 63% were estimated to be aware of their infection. The percentage of PWID living with HIV was higher among non-Hispanic blacks (16%) compared to non-Hispanic whites (5%). Among the 9,425 PWID included in the behavioral analysis, 30% reported using a syringe that had been used by someone else, with the highest percentage of receptive sharing among 18-39 year olds.
Seventy percent of PWID reported having vaginal sex without a condom, 25% reported heterosexual anal sex without a condom and, 5% of males reported male-to-male anal sex without a condom. Among PWID reporting a negative or unknown HIV infection status, 51% reported that they had an HIV test in the past 12 months and 75% had not participated in an HIV behavioral intervention in the previous 12 months.