We briefly review findings from Brazilian settings where the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) epidemic among injection drug users (IDUs) seems to be decreasing, highlighting recent findings from Rio de Janeiro and discussing methodological alternatives. Former analyses using serologic testing algorithm for recent HIV seroconversion have shown that HIV incidence has been low in IDUs recruited by two different surveys carried out in Rio, where low injection frequencies and infection rates have been found among new injectors. The proportion of AIDS cases among IDUs in Rio has been fairly modest, compared to São Paulo and especially to the southernmost states.
Notwithstanding, the interpretation of findings from serial surveys constitutes a challenge, magnified in the assessment of HIV spread among IDUs due to the dynamic nature of the drug scenes and limitations of sampling strategies targeting hard-to-reach populations. Assessment of epidemic trends may profit from the triangulation of data, but cannot avert biases associated with sampling errors. Efforts should be made to triangulate data from different sources, besides exploring specific studies from different perspectives. In an attempt to further assess the observed trends, we carried out original analyses using data from Brazilian AIDS databank.