HIV medicine locker at IDEA Exchange in Miami, Florida.
Image Courtesy NIDA/ Sonya Revell, Photographer
  • The HIV epidemic and addiction and overdose crisis in the United States are closely intertwined.1 People who use drugs may have a higher risk of acquiring HIV—both related to injection drug use2 and to the complex role drugs can play in sexual transmission3,4,5,6—and they may face unique barriers to lifesaving tools that prevent, diagnose, and treat HIV.7 Similarly, communities with high rates of certain forms of drug use are vulnerable to HIV outbreaks.1,8,9,10
  • NIDA conducts and supports research to evaluate approaches to improve HIV and substance use outcomes in the United States and around the world, including evidence-based harm-reduction strategies (such as syringe services programs), integrated delivery of substance use treatment and other services alongside HIV care, and efforts to overcome stigma.
  • Researchers, clinicians, and activists working at the intersection of HIV and substance use have had an important role in the response to the HIV pandemic since AIDS was recognized in the 1980s.11 Through the HIV Research Program, NIDA continues to advance scientific understanding of HIV, drugs, and addiction.

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Additional Resources

  1. Hodder SL, Feinberg J, Strathdee SA, et al. The opioid crisis and HIV in the USA: deadly synergies. Lancet. 2021;397(10279):1139-1150. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00391-3
  2. Handanagic S, Finlayson T, Burnett JC, Broz D, Wejnert C; National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Study Group. HIV infection and HIV-associated behaviors among persons who inject drugs - 23 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, United States, 2018. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(42):1459-1465. Published 2021 Oct 22. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7042a1
  3. Ogden SN, Harris MT, Childs E, et al. "You need money to get high, and that's the easiest and fastest way:" A typology of sex work and health behaviours among people who inject drugs. Int J Drug Policy. 2021;96:103285. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103285
  4. Strathdee SA, Sherman SG. The role of sexual transmission of HIV infection among injection and non-injection drug users. J Urban Health. 2003;80(4 Suppl 3):iii7-iii14. doi:10.1093/jurban/jtg078
  5. Celentano DD, Latimore AD, Mehta SH. Variations in sexual risks in drug users: emerging themes in a behavioral context. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2008;5(4):212-218. doi:10.1007/s11904-008-0030-4
  6. Edeza A, Bazzi A, Salhaney P, et al. HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis for people who inject drugs: the context of co-occurring injection- and sexual-related HIV risk in the U.S. Northeast. Subst Use Misuse. 2020;55(4):525-533. doi:10.1080/10826084.2019.1673419
  7. Meyer JP, Althoff AL, Altice FL. Optimizing care for HIV-infected people who use drugs: evidence-based approaches to overcoming healthcare disparities. Clin Infect Dis. 2013;57(9):1309-1317. doi:10.1093/cid/cit427
  8. Shoptaw S, Reback CJ. Associations between methamphetamine use and HIV among men who have sex with men: a model for guiding public policy. J Urban Health. 2006;83(6):1151-1157. doi:10.1007/s11524-006-9119-5
  9. Peters PJ, Pontones P, Hoover KW, et al. HIV infection linked to injection use of oxymorphone in Indiana, 2014-2015. N Engl J Med. 2016;375(3):229-239. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1515195
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Methamphetamine use and HIV risk behaviors among heterosexual men--preliminary results from five northern California counties, December 2001-November 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(10):273-277.
  11. Wodak A, McLeod L. The role of harm reduction in controlling HIV among injecting drug users. AIDS. 2008;22 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S81-S92. doi:10.1097/01.aids.0000327439.20914.33