Explosive spread and high prevalence of HIV infection among injecting drug users in Togliatti City, Russia
ABSTRACT To establish the prevalence of antibodies to HIV (anti-HIV) and associated risk factors among injecting drug users (IDU) in Togliatti City, Samara Oblast, Russian Federation.
An unlinked anonymous cross-sectional community recruited survey with oral fluid sample collection.
Between September and October 2001, 426 IDU were recruited by trained fieldworkers. Participants completed an interviewer administered questionnaire, and oral fluid samples were tested for anti-HIV. Univariate and multivariate analyses compared potential risk factors for anti-HIV.
Anti-HIV prevalence was 56% (234/418). Three-quarters of anti-HIV-positive IDU (74%) were unaware of their positive status. In an adjusted model, the odds of HIV infection were higher among IDU who had ever injected home-produced drugs, who reported injecting with used needles and syringes in the past 4 weeks, and who were living in one particular district of the city (Komsomolksii).
The high prevalence of HIV, and a recent increase in HIV detected through routine screening tests since 2000, suggests that an explosive epidemic has occurred among IDU in Togliatti City. In the face of currently inadequate HIV prevention coverage among IDU, this has urgent implications for maximizing the distribution of sterile injecting equipment as well as for enhancing sexual risk reduction. Recognizing that it is likely that similar explosive epidemics are taking place in other Russian cities, we recommend community-wide HIV prevention coverage supported by city and state policies oriented to harm reduction.
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