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.