Safe practices among young injecting drug users

Export Indicator

The percentages of young IDUs who report never having shared injecting equipment during the preceding month and who also report that a condom was used the last time they had sex.
What it measures

Injecting drug use does not, in itself, expose a drug user to HIV infection. The additional risk for drug users arises from the practice of sharing needles. Intravenous injections with needles that someone else has used can be an efficient mode of transmission of HIV infection. The extent to which IDUs share needles varies. The prevalence of IDUs alone, therefore, does not accurately describe the size of the group at risk of HIV. This indicator shows what proportion of IDUs has adopted behaviour intended to avoid HIV transmission. The separate components can be used to track trends in unsafe needle use and unsafe sex among IDUs. The results for the various categories stipulated below should be carefully considered because changes in the indicator could reflect real behavioural change, changes in reporting or changes in the overall composition of the group. This indicator should be reported as separate percentages for men and women and for the age groups 15โ€“19, 20โ€“24 and 15โ€“24 years. The results should be compared with those for other highrisk age groups.


The number of respondents who report not having shared injecting equipment during the preceding month and who also report that a condom was used the last time they had sex during this month.


The number of respondents who report injecting drugs and having sexual intercourse during the preceding month.

Method of measurement

In a behavioural survey among IDUs the respondents are asked whether they shared a needle at any time in the preceding month. They are then asked whether they had sex in the preceding month, and, if so, whether a condom was used. It is essential to make sure that locally appropriate terminology is used in order to collect the correct information.

Measurement frequency

Age group: 15 years - 19 years, 15 years - 24 years, 20 years - 24 years

Education: N/A

Gender: Male, Female

Geographic location: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

The time limit of one month is used because it minimizes recall bias, which may be a particular problem for IDUs. This time limit also means that the indicator gives some perspective on the consistency of the behaviours. A limitation of surveys among high-risk groups is that it is not usually possible to find a representative probability sample. This means that it is difficult to estimate the extent to which an indicator based on the data describes all members of such a group. Furthermore, it is difficult to duplicate this type of survey in order to examine trends.

Further information