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Global Health
August 20, 2014

HIV Spreading in Middle East, North Africa Among People Who Inject Drugs

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Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA. 2014;312(7):687. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10322

In the past 10 years, HIV epidemics have begun to emerge among people who inject drugs in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa, reports an international group of researchers (Mumtaz GR et al. PLoS Med. 2014;11[6]:e1001663).

The investigators examined 192 articles that reported the prevalence and incidence of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among people who inject drugs in 23 Middle Eastern and North African countries. They estimated that there are about 626 000 people who inject drugs in these areas, with a mean prevalence of injection drug use of 0.24 per 100 adults, which is comparable with figures from other regions around the world. In at least a third of these countries, they found evidence of HIV epidemics among this population, and most of the epidemics appear to have emerged within the past 10 years. Many of these individuals reported behaviors such as sharing needles or syringes, which put them at high risk for contracting HIV. The authors also noted that there may be hidden epidemics among injection drug users in countries that have limited data.