HIV incidence and factors associated with HIV acquisition among injection drug users in St Petersburg, Russia


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Abstract

Background:The Russian HIV-1 epidemic has been driven by injection drug use.Objective:To determine HIV incidence and identify demographic and behavioral correlates of infection to facilitate the development of longitudinal HIV prevention programs.Methods:In 2002, a cohort of 520 injection drug users (IDU) in St Petersburg, Russia were recruited and tested and counseled for HIV-1. HIV-seronegative IDU were enrolled and reevaluated at 6 and 12 months. HIV testing was performed and sociodemographic and behavioral data were collected during each study visit. The relationship of sociodemographic and behavioral factors to HIV-1 incidence was assessed.Results:Most enrolled subjects were young, male, living at home, educated, heroin users, and frequently shared needles and other injection paraphernalia. The retention rate at the 12 month follow-up was 80%. The HIV-1 incidence rate was 4.5/100 person-years. In univariate analysis, psychostimulant use, especially frequent use, three or more sex partners in the past 6 months, and females selling sex were associated with HIV seroconversion. In the multivariate analysis, psychostimulant use three or more times per week was the only factor still associated with HIV seroconversion.Conclusions:The high incidence of HIV infection places St Petersburg among the worst IDU-concentrated epidemics in Europe. Interventions targeting psychostimulant and heroin users and their accompanying behaviors such as frequent injections and increased sexual activity are needed immediately.

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