Toward a systematic understanding: a two-way relational model between drug use and HIV/AIDS

Cases of AIDS were first reported in the early 1980s among homosexual and bisexual men in the United States.' With the incidence of AIDS among the same group growing continuously in North America and Europe, the public began to perceive that AIDS was a sexually transmitted disease of homosexual men in industrialized countries. A parallel in public opinion soon developed when cases of AIDS were identified among injecting-drug users. The parallel perception was that intravenous drug use constitutes a major risk behavior leading to HIV infection and AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of all new HIV cases (35.8 percent) are directly or indirectly linked to intravenous-drug use.2 The CDC also estimates that almost 60 percent of children under age 13 with AIDS contract the disease perinatally from their mothers, who are intravenous-drug users or the sex partners of intravenous-drug users.3