Saturday, March 18, 2006

Rise in drug users getting HIV

London - The number of injecting drug users infected with HIV in England and Wales reached a 13-year peak in 2005, as the rate of infection rose sharply outside London, the government said on Friday.

The Health Protection Agency said 1.6% of injecting users were infected, up from 0.9% in 2002.

"This is the highest level of infection since 1992, when one in 62 (1.6%) injecting drug users were infected with HIV," the agency said on its Web site.

The number of infected drug users remained steady in London, but increased in other cities from 0.2% in 2002 to 1.2% in 2005.

The agency said the number of HIV diagnoses among injecting drug users in 2005 could reach 182, up from 131 the year before.

The report "coincides with a reported increase in more risky behaviours among injecting drug users, as well as a rise in hepatitis C infection," said Peter Borriello, director of the Health Protection Agency's Centre for Infections Diseases..

He said there was evidence of a rise in the injecting of crack cocaine, which may be linked to the transmission of viruses like HIV and hepatitis C.


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