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updated 3/1/2012 1:36:17 PM ET 2012-03-01T18:36:17

There's some good news from the AIDS front: Fewer needle drug users are testing positive for HIV.

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U.S. health officials say the rate has dropped by half since the 1990s. The decline may be related to a growth in needle exchange programs.

More than 10,000 drug users in 30 metropolitan areas were surveyed and tested for HIV in 2009. About 1 in 10 tested positive for the virus. In the '90s, roughly 1 in 5 did.

The study also found that only about half of infected drug users know they carry the AIDS virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Thursday. Addicts who inject heroin, cocaine or other drugs have been one of the groups hit hardest by AIDS.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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