HIV and Young People Who Inject Drugs
Key populations at higher risk of HIV include people who sell sex, men who have sex with men, transgender people and people who inject drugs. Young people who belong to one or more of these key populations – or who engage in activities associated with these populations – are made especially vulnerable to HIV by widespread criminalisation, discrimination, stigma and violence, combined with the particular vulnerabilities of youth, power imbalances in relationships and, sometimes, alienation from family and friends. These factors increase the risk that they may engage – willingly or not – in behaviours that put them at risk of HIV, such as frequent unprotected sex and the sharing of needles and syringes to inject drugs.
This brief aims to catalyse and inform discussions about how best to provide health services, programmes and support for young people who inject drugs. It offers a concise account of current knowledge concerning the HIV risk and vulnerability of young people who inject drugs; the barriers and constraints they face to appropriate services; examples of programmes that may work well in addressing their needs and rights; and approaches and considerations for providing services that both draw upon and build the strengths, competencies and capacities of young people who inject drugs.