Engagement in sex work does not increase HIV risk for women who inject drugs in Ukraine

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Abstract

Background

We studied the association between sex in exchange for money, drugs or goods and HIV for women who inject drugs (WWID) in Ukraine, as previous data on this association from the post-USSR region are contradictory.

Methods

Data come from the Integrated Bio-Behavioral Survey of Ukrainian people who inject drugs collected in 2011 using respondent-driven sampling. Participants were interviewed and tested with rapid HIV tests.

Results

The sample included 2465 WWID (24% HIV positive); 214 (8.7%) of which reported having had exchange sex during the last 90 days. Crude analysis showed no association between exchange sex and HIV (OR = 0.644; 95% CI 0.385-1.077). No confounders were found to alter this result in a multivariable analysis. Further modeling showed that exchange sex modifies association between HIV and alcohol use: no association between HIV and daily alcohol use was found for those women who exchanged sex (OR = 1.699, 95% CI 0.737-3.956); while not engaging in sex work and daily using alcohol reduced odds to be HIV infected (OR = 0.586, 95% CI 0.389-0.885).

Conclusions

Exchange sex may have less impact on the HIV status of WWID who are exposed to injecting risks. The finding that daily alcohol use appears protective against HIV among WWID who do not exchange sex requires more research.

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