Gender Differences in Risk Behaviors Among HIV+ Persons With an IDU History: The Link Between Partner Characteristics and Women's Higher Drug-Sex Risks

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Abstract

Background and Objectives:

Risk-taking behaviors differ among women and men injection drug users (IDU).

Goal:

To specify the nature of sexual and drug risk-taking among women IDU and ex-IDU and how it relates to partner characteristics.

Design:

A cross-sectional analysis of 324 HIV+ subjects enrolled into a prospective cohort study in Marseille, France.

Results:

Women, as compared with men, were considerably more likely to report nonuse of condoms with a main partner (31% versus 12%). They were more likely to shoot with a partner at last injection (39% versus 12%), but far less likely to sterilize used needles (4% versus 16%). Two thirds of both men and women reported consistent condom use with a seronegative partner, but only 47% of men and 23% of women reported the same with a seropositive partner. Among the women only, needle and syringe sharing was associated with consistent use of a condom.

Conclusions:

Women reported behaviors which protect their partners from STD infection more frequently than behaviors which protect themselves. Greater attention must be paid to sexual risk-taking among HIV+ women.

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