Volume 79, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Injection drug use in sub-Saharan Africa is a relatively new phenomenon that expands the repertoire of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–associated risk behaviors in Africa. We carried out a study of 537 injection drug users (56% men and 44% women) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to examine their HIV risk behaviors and their drug-using careers that had culminated in injecting heroin. Data were collected in 2005–2006 using the Swahili version of the Tanzanian AIDS Prevention Project questionnaire. Marijuana, alcohol, and heroin were the first drugs reported for both men and women. Most drug milestones appeared in a similar order for men and women. Mandrax, khat, and injecting appeared close to one another in chronological time for both men and women, suggesting they were introduced into the country and appeared on the drug scene at about the same (real) time. Drug careers for women were shorter than for men, and time from first use of heroin to first injection was shorter for women. Years of injecting suggested that injecting had increased in males approximately five years prior to data collection, with males injecting earlier, but females being increasingly introduced to injecting in the previous two years. Injecting appears at a mean of five years (men) and three years (women) into their heroin-using career. Heroin use appears to occur in binges, with women being more likely to have sex during a binge. In this sample, more than 90% of women but only 2% of men reported ever trading sex for money. More than 90% of men and women reported using new needles for injection. These data confirm that heroin injecting is well established in large cities in east Africa, and that HIV prevention in the region must now include drug injectors and other drug users.


Article metrics loading...

The graphs shown below represent data from March 2017
Loading full text...

Full text loading...



  1. Affinnih YH, 2002. Revisiting sub-Saharan African countries’ drug problems: health, social, economic costs and drug control policy. Subst Use Misuse 37 : 265–290. [Google Scholar]
  2. Beckerleg S, Telfer M, Sadiq A, 2006. A rapid assessment of heroin use in Mombasa, Kenya. Substance Abuse Misuse 41 : 1029–1044. [Google Scholar]
  3. Beckerleg S, 2004. How “cool” is heroin injection at the Kenya coast? Drugs Educ Prev Policy 1 : 67–78. [Google Scholar]
  4. Beckerleg S, Hundt GL, 2004. The characteristics and recent growth of heroin injecting in a Kenyan coastal town. Addiction Res Theory 1 : 41–54. [Google Scholar]
  5. McCurdy SA, Williams ML, Kilonzo GP, Ross MW, Leshabari MT, 2005. Heroin and HIV risk in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: youth hangouts, mageto and injecting practices. AIDS Care 17 (Suppl. 1): S65–S76. [Google Scholar]
  6. McCurdy SA, Williams ML, Ross MW, Kilonzo GP, Leshabari MT, 2005. New injecting practice increases HIV risk among drug users in Tanzania. BMJ 331 : 778. [Google Scholar]
  7. Kilonzo GP, Kaaya SF, 1994. The family and substance abuse in the United Republic of Tanzania. Bull Narc 46 : 87–96. [Google Scholar]
  8. McCurdy SA, Ross MW, Kilonzo GP, Leshabari MT, Williams ML, 2006. HIV/AIDS and injection drug use in the neighborhoods of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Drug Alcohol Depend 82 (Suppl 1): S23–S27. [Google Scholar]
  9. Key Findings from the 2003–04 Tanzania HIV/AIDS Indicator Survey (THIS). Available at: http://www.measuredhs.com/pdfs/TanzaniaHIVFactSheet.pdf. Accessed December, 2007.
  10. Heimer R, Grau LE, Curtin E, Khoshkood K, Singer M, 2007. Assessment of HIV testing of urban injecting drug users: implications for expansion of HIV testing and prevention efforts. Am J Public Health 97 : 110–116. [Google Scholar]
  11. Platt L, Wall M, Rhodes T, Judd A, Hickman M, Johnson LG, Renton A, Bobrova N, Sarang A, 2006. Methods to recruit hard-to-reach groups: comparing two chain referral sampling methods of recruiting injecting drug users across nine studies in Russia and Estonia. J Urban Health 83 (Suppl. 6): 39–53. [Google Scholar]
  12. Timpson S, McCurdy S, Leshabari M, Kilonzo G, Msami A, Williams M, 2006. Substance abuse, HIV risk, and HIV in Tanzania. African Journal of Drug and Alcohol Studies 5 : 158–169. [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Received : 08 Feb 2008
  • Accepted : 11 Jun 2008

Most Cited This Month

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error