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LETTER TO EDITOR Table of Contents   
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 52  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 295-296
Drug users and HIV: Injecting users are not the only high-risk group


Government Medical College, Amritsar (Punjab), India

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How to cite this article:
Jindal N, Arora U. Drug users and HIV: Injecting users are not the only high-risk group. Indian J Pathol Microbiol 2009;52:295-6

How to cite this URL:
Jindal N, Arora U. Drug users and HIV: Injecting users are not the only high-risk group. Indian J Pathol Microbiol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2020 Feb 16];52:295-6. Available from: http://www.ijpmonline.org/text.asp?2009/52/2/295/48962


Sir,

The state of Punjab is confronting a major crisis of drug and substance abuse with a steep rise in the use of smack, ganja, cocaine, poppy husk and pharmaceutical preparations like pain killers, cough suppressants and sedative injections. [1] The most serious fallout of this problem is impaired health with vulnerability to hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Among the drug users, the focus is mainly on injecting drug users (IDUs) who show explosive HIV outbreak because the virus spreads readily through needle sharing. As per 2006 surveillance data from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), 13% of the IDUs in Punjab and Chandigarh are infected with HIV. [1] But, drug users, both IDUs and non-IDUs also have very high-risk sexual behavior because of their psychosocial and biological conditions and exclusion of preventing activities. This makes even the non-IDUs an important and potential source of HIV infection, especially because heterosexual route is the predominant mode of HIV transmission in our country. Therefore, the present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of HIV infection in non-IDUs of Amritsar (Punjab).

A total of 554 drug users (non-IDUs 457, IDUs 97) undergoing counseling and treatment for the first time at a drug deaddiction center at Amritsar from Jan 2002 to July 2004 were screened for HIV infection as per the NACO guidelines. All the drug users in the present study were males of reproductive age (21-40 years) and the majority of them belonged to the lower socioeconomic status and were semiliterate farmers, laborers or unskilled daily wagers, similar to other studies from Punjab. [1],[2] Sexual promiscuity was prevalent almost equally in both IDUs and non-IDUs, with negligible and very irregular use of condom. Prevalence of HIV in drug users was 5.95% (33/554). In non-IDUs, it was 4.15% (19/457) and in IDUs, it was 14.4% (14/97). Statistically, the difference between the two was significant ( P = 0.0001). However, on comparing the prevalence rates observed in HIV sentinel surveillances conducted on sexually transmitted disease attendees of our institute during the years 2003 and 2004, with the prevalence rate observed in non-IDUs, the difference was statistically insignificant ( P = 0.075). [3] This shows that although needle sharing is a greater risk factor than sex, with 4.15% prevalence, even non-IDUs form a high-risk group for the spread of HIV infection. The study suggested that non-IDUS and not IDUs alone should be subjected to intense target interventions for safe sex behavioral changes by promoting condom use and sex education. This would go a long way in reducing the burden of HIV infection in our country.

 
   References Top

1.Kaur S. State Youth on high. The Indian Express. Available from:http://www.expressindia.com. [last accessed on 2008 Jun 26].  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.HIV/AIDS epidemiological Surveillance and Estimation report for the year 2005. NACO: MOHFW, New Delhi. April 2006.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Annual sentinel surveillance for HIV infection in India. Country report 2004. NACO:MOHFW, New Delhi.  Back to cited text no. 3    

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Correspondence Address:
Neerja Jindal
113, Race Course Road, Amritsar (Punjab)
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0377-4929.48962

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