The connection between HIV transmission and injected drug users is undeniable. Studies performed over the last three decades have shown the steady increase in reported HIV cases is due to the using and sharing of needles between intravenous drug users.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that almost 28 percent of the AIDS cases reported in 2000 were directly linked to injected drug users and their habit of sharing used needles. It is believed that over one third of all cases of HIV/AIDS reported in the United States can be linked in some way to using or sharing needles among addicts.
Injected drug users not only risk their own health but that of the lives of family members as well. Even though their partners are not drug users, they can contract HIV through sexual contact. HIV men who give their partners the virus, can also cause it to be passed to their children if the spouse carries a child after she has been infected.
The incidence of risk associated with injected drug users is extremely high. Because needles are used to introduce the drug directly into the bloodstream, both the drug and the virus are inserted into the body itself. Contacting HIV through an infected needle is much more likely to occur than just having unprotected sex with a partner who is known to be HIV/AIDS positive.
Some studies estimate that up to 20,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS are possible each year. It is also believed that getting injected drug users to stop the sharing of needles may be one possible way of reducing those numbers. The ideal goal would be to stop the use of illegal drugs, but even with the best of intentions it is unlikely that it will occur.