A growing concentration of HIV among injection drug users in Tanzania could spill over into the general population, an Australian researcher is warning. In Dar es Salaam, 35 percent of IDUs surveyed had HIV, according to Dr. Mark Stoove of Melbourne’s Burnet Institute.
Infection rates were highest among female IDUs, at 67 percent, compared with 30 percent among males. Drug trafficking routes have fueled the rise in drug injection in the region over the past decade, said Stoove, who presented his research at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington. The high number of women IDUs infected reflects a sex work-IDU association, a nexus seen around the world, Stoove said.
While antiretroviral therapy has led to a decline in heterosexual HIV incidence in the past five years, increasing prevalence among IDUs could push it back up, Stoove said.
“All of that work going into prevention in heterosexual populations through antiretroviral therapies can potentially be watered down by the lack of attention to particularly high-risk populations like drug users,” Stoove said.
The study was conducted in response to an urgent request for help by Doctors of the World, a French aid organization.
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