Women Who Use or Inject Drugs: An Action Agenda for Women-Specific, Multilevel, and Combination HIV Prevention and Research

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Jun 1;69 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S182-90. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000628.


Women account for more than half of all individuals living with HIV globally. Despite increasing drug and HIV epidemics among women, women who use drugs are rarely found in research, harm reduction programs, or drug and HIV treatment and care. Women who use drugs continue to face challenges that increase their vulnerability to HIV and other comorbidities because of high rates of gender-based violence, human rights violations, incarceration, and institutional and societal stigmatization. This special issue emphasizes how the burdens of HIV, drug use, and their co-occurring epidemics affect women in a global context. Articles included focus on the epidemiologies of HIV and hepatitis C virus and other comorbidities; HIV treatment, prevention, and care; and policies affecting the lives of women who use drugs. This issue also highlights the state of the science of biomedical and behavioral research related to women who use drugs. The final article highlights the major findings of articles covered and presents a call to action regarding needed research, treatment, and preventive services for women who use drugs. To address these needs, we advocate for women-specific thinking and approaches that consider the social, micro, and macro contexts of women's lives. We present a women-specific risk environment framework that reflects the unique lives and contexts of women who use drugs and provides a call to action for intervention, prevention, and policies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • HIV Infections / etiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Women's Health
  • Women's Health Services