Objectives: The purpose of the study was to estimate the number of injection drug users infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in Bangkok to allow planning for health services for this population.
Methods: A two-sample capture-recapture method was used. The first capture listed all persons on methadone treatment for opiate addiction from April 17 through May 17, 1991, at 18 facilities in Bangkok. The second capture involved urine testing of persons held at 72 Bangkok police stations from June 3 through September 30, 1991. Persons whose urine tests were positive for opiate metabolites or methadone were included on the second list.
Results: The first capture comprised 4064 persons and the recapture 1540 persons. There were 171 persons included on both lists, yielding an estimate of 36,600 opiate users in Bangkok. Existing data indicate that 89% of opiate users in Bangkok inject drugs and that about one third are infected with HIV, yielding an estimate of approximately 12,000 HIV-infected injection drug users in Bangkok in 1991.
Conclusions: During the 1990s the number of cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and other HIV-related diseases, including tuberculosis, in the population of HIV-infected injection drug users in Bangkok will increase dramatically, placing new demands on existing health care facilities. The capture-recapture method may be useful in estimating difficult-to-count populations, including injection drug users.