HIV and its transmission has long been associated with injecting drug use, where hypodermic syringes are used to administer illicit drugs. Now, a newly reported study by researchers affiliated with New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that HIV infection among heterosexual non-injecting drug users (no hypodermic syringe is used; drugs are taken orally or nasally) in New York City (NYC) has now surpassed HIV infection among persons who inject drugs.
The study, "HSV-2 Co-Infection as a Driver of HIV Transmission among Heterosexual Non-Injecting Drug Users in New York City," was conducted among drug users entering the Mount Sinai Beth Israel drug treatment programs in NYC. The researchers found that HIV infection among non-injecting drug users doubled over the last two decades, from 7% infected in the late 1990s (n= 785) to 14% (n=1764) currently. During this same time-frame, HIV infection among persons who inject drugs fell to 10%.
The increased efficiency for transmitting HIV occurs even when persons with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) are between outbreaks, as herpes increases both susceptibility to and transmissibility of HIV. More than half of the non-injecting drug users in the study were infected with HSV-2.
"Heterosexual intercourse is usually not very efficient for transmitting HIV, but the efficiency of heterosexual transmission nearly triples in the presence of herpes simplex virus type 2," notes the study's lead author, Don Des Jarlais, PhD, Deputy Director, Research Methods and Infectious Diseases Cores, Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) and Professor of Psychiatry and of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel. "In New York City, we have done an excellent job of reducing HIV among persons who inject drugs and we must now put more efforts into reducing sexual transmission associated with non-injecting drug use."
The study concludes
|Contact: Christopher James|
New York University