Gender Differences in Factors Related to HIV Risk Behaviors among People Who Inject Drugs in North-East India

Citation: Sabri B, McFall AM, Solomon SS, Srikrishnan AK, Vasudevan CK, Anand S, et al. (2017) Gender Differences in Factors Related to HIV Risk Behaviors among People Who Inject Drugs in North-East India. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169482. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169482
Published: January 18, 2017

People who inject drugs (PWID) in India are at high risk for HIV, with women being at elevated risk. Using a socio-ecological framework, this study assessed whether factors associated with HIV transmission risk behaviors differed across men and women PWID. Data for this cross-sectional study were collected from 6449 PWID in 7 cities in Northeast India. Men (n = 5653) and women (n = 796) PWID were recruited using respondent-driven sampling (RDS). We assessed sex differences in two recent HIV transmission risk behaviors: multiple sex partners and needle/syringe sharing. We used multi-level logistic regression models, which incorporated sampling weights and random intercepts for city, to assess factors associated with these HIV risks, separately among men and women. The prevalence of HIV was significantly higher among women than men (53% vs 18.4%, p<0.01). Nearly 13% of men and 8% of women (p = .30) had multiple partners. Employment in men and relationship status and stigma in women were significantly associated with multiple partners. Approximately 25% of men and 19% of women engaged in needle sharing (p = .16). Younger age in women and depression symptoms in men were significantly associated with increased risk for sharing needles. We found that sexual and drug related risk behaviors were common among PWID in Northeast India, and there were differences between men and women in the socio-ecologic correlates of these behaviors. Contextually-integrated and gender-specific HIV prevention and intervention efforts are needed that consider factors at individual, interpersonal- and community-levels that uniquely impact HIV risks among PWID.


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