The types of drugs used by HIV-infected injection drug users in a multistate surveillance project: implications for intervention

Am J Public Health. 1994 Dec;84(12):1971-5. doi: 10.2105/ajph.84.12.1971.


Objectives: This study sought to describe the drugs used by drug injectors infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to determine factors associated with the primary injection drug used.

Methods: A cross-section of persons 18 years of age or older reported with HIV or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) to local health departments in 11 US states and cities was surveyed.

Results: Of 4162 persons interviewed, 1147 (28%) reported ever having injected drugs. Of these 1147 injectors, 72% primarily injected a drug other than heroin. However, the types of drugs injected varied notably by place of residence. Heroin was the most commonly injected drug in Detroit (94%) and Connecticut (48%); cocaine was the most common in South Carolina (64%), Atlanta (56%), Delaware (55%), Denver (46%), and Arizona (44%); speedball was most common in Florida (46%); and amphetamines were most common in Washington (56%). Other determinants of the type of drug primarily injected were often similar by region of residence, except for heroin use. Polysubstance abuse was common; 75% injected more than one type of drug, and 85% reported noninjected drug use.

Conclusions: Preventing the further spread of HIV will require more drug abuse treatment programs that go beyond methadone, address polysubstance abuse, and adapt to local correlates of the primary drug used.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • United States


  • Illicit Drugs