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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
AIDS Peril Grows for Cocaine Users
Lambert, Bruce
November 28, 1988
Research in San Francisco and New York indicates that drug users who inject cocaine are spreading HIV faster than heroin addicts. Cocaine injecters may use syringes several times an hour, while a typical heroin user shoots up much less often. Drug abuse experts say the higher the frequency of injection, the greater the chance of virus transmission. Dr. Samuel R. Friedman, testifying recently before the New York State Assembly's Health Committee, said, "If there's a shortage of needles, they're going to have a fast round robin" of needle sharing. Contaminated needles, as well as sexual intercourse, are prime methods of spreading the virus. The lack of an effective treatment for cocaine addiction presents the biggest problem to those seeking to stem the spread of HIV infection. Heroin addicts in methadone treatment programs sometimes switch to cocaine use, experts said. Prevention programs, which previously stressed the dangers of heroin injection, are now focusing on cocaine as well.