Emergence of cocaine and methamphetamine injection among HIV-positive injection drug users in Northern and Western India

Shruti H. Mehta, Aylur K. Srikrishnan, Eva Noble, Canjeevaram K. Vasudevan, Suniti Solomon, M. Suresh Kumar, Sunil S. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known regarding the epidemiology of drug injection and risk behaviors among injection drug users (IDUs) across India. In particular, there is limited data on the prevalence of stimulant injection. Methods: We sampled 801 HIV positive IDUs from 14 locations throughout India to represent the geography of India as well as the diversity in IDU epidemic stage (established epidemics, emerging epidemics and large cities). All participants underwent a behavioral survey and blood draw. Given prior associations with stimulant injection and HIV risk, we compared stimulant injectors (cocaine and/or methamphetamine) to those who injected opiates and/or pharmaceuticals only. Results: The median age was 33; 86% were male. The primary drugs injected were heroin, buprenorphine and other pharmaceuticals. In all but four sites, >50% of those actively injecting reported needle sharing. Stimulant injection was most common in emerging epidemics. Compared to exclusive opiate injectors, stimulant injectors were significantly younger, more likely to be educated and employed, more likely to report non-injection use of heroin, crack/cocaine and amphetamines, heavy alcohol use, recent needle sharing (71% vs. 57%), sex with a casual partner (57% vs. 31%) and men having sex with other men (33% vs. 9%; p<. 0.01 for all). Conclusions: Emerging IDU epidemics have a drug/sexual risk profile not previously been observed in India. Given the high prevalence of stimulant injection in these populations, HIV prevention/treatment programs may need to be redesigned to maximize effectiveness. The high levels of injection sharing overall reinforce the need to ensure access to harm-reduction services for all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-165
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Amphetamine-type stimulants
  • Cocaine
  • India
  • Injection drug use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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