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HIV and young people who inject drugs

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Geneva, WHO Press, 2015

Young people aged 10–24 years constitute one-quarter of the world’s population,and they are among those most affected by the global epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In 2013, an estimated 4.96 million people aged 10–24 years were living with HIV, and young people aged 15–24 years accounted for an estimated 35% of all new infections world wide in people over 15 years of age.

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