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Needle exchange programs may help keep HIV rates down

Category: HIV

Injection drug users are among the leading individuals who receive positive HIV tests. While programs that offer these addicts clean needles may help stop the spread of the disease, they have yet to gain much support in the U.S., which is likely to keep rates of infection high among these drug users.

A team of researchers in Australia recently showed that the country's needle exchange program is working to keep HIV rates low. Investigators from the National Center in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research found that about 1 percent of participants in the exchange program have the disease, according to Reuters. This is in contrast to 16 percent of injection drug users in the U.S. and 37 percent in Russia.

"There has never been a significant, generalized outbreak of HIV among people who inject drugs in this country," Libby Topp, who led the investigation, told the news source. "What our results show is that in a country where needle and syringe programs were introduced early and on a widespread basis, HIV transmission never became a problem among injectors."

Currently, more than 1 million U.S. citizens have HIV, and injection drug users are one of the leading at-risk groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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