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Prevention Among Injection Drug Users

 IDU HIV Prevention
Outreach to
Drug Users

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HIV Prevention Among Injection Drug Users

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Archival Content: 1999-2005

Training Doing the Work

Key Research Findings on Outreach to Drug Users

What have researchers studied?

Over the past 20 years, researchers have studied the effects of HIV-related outreach to high-risk and infected IDUs. These studies have looked at the:

  • theories behind the outreach approaches used;
  • content of outreach efforts;
  • populations reached; and
  • changes in knowledge and behaviors.

Major finding: Outreach can help drug users

Results have shown that IDUs are interested in learning about HIV/AIDS and are willing to change their behavior to reduce risk. These studies consistently show that outreach is an effective way to reach IDUs.

Outreach helps IDUs reduce risky behaviors and thereby decreases the rate of new infections. Participating in HIV prevention outreach efforts also promotes entry into substance abuse treatment programs.

IDUs report that because of outreach, they:

  • inject drugs less;
  • share and reuse syringes, needles, and other injection equipment less often;
  • disinfect syringes more often; and
  • use condoms more often.

Additional findings

  • Outreach can help to recruit IDUs to HIV prevention services, such as testing and counseling or substance abuse treatment.
  • Providing transportation to services or using mobile units to bring services to IDUs in their communities increases the chances that services will be used.
  • Both peer-driven interventions and services provided by social workers or other professional staff can help IDUs reduce their risks.
  • Outreach programs are feasible and affordable, even when resources are limited


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