Falling through the cracks: a qualitative study of HIV risks among women who use drugs and alcohol in Northeast India

BMC International Health and Human Rights (Impact Factor: 1.44). 01/2013; 13(1):9. DOI: 10.1186/1472-698X-13-9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: HIV risks for women who inject drugs and those who engage in sex work are well documented. Women who are dependent on non-injecting drugs and alcohol are also likely to have increased vulnerability to HIV infection, but until they actually inject drugs or engage in sex work, are unlikely to come to the attention of HIV prevention programs. METHODS: We undertook a qualitative study involving nine focus group discussions (FGDs) and 27 key informant interviews to investigate the context of female drug and alcohol use in two high HIV prevalence states of India (Manipur and Nagaland) and to describe their HIV risks. The FGD and interview transcripts were thematically analyzed RESULTS: The women were relatively young (mean age 31 years in Manipur and 28 years in Nagaland), but 64% in Manipur and 35% in Nagaland were widowed or divorced. Both heroin and alcohol were commonly used by the women from Manipur, while alcohol was primarily used by the women from Nagaland, especially in the context of 'booze joints' (illicit bars). Reasons for drug and alcohol use included: to avoid symptoms of withdrawal, to suppress emotional pain, to overcome the shame of sex work, pleasure, and widowhood. HIV vulnerability was clearly described, not only in relation to injecting drug use and sex work, but also alcohol consumption. CONCLUSIONS: The contribution of alcohol use to the HIV vulnerability of women is not currently considered when HIV prevention programs are being designed and implemented leaving a group of high-risk women uncovered by much needed services such as treatment for a range of health problems including alcohol dependence.

  • Source
    The International journal on drug policy 05/2008; 19(2):97-8. DOI:10.1016/j.drugpo.2008.01.002 · 2.54 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The north-east Indian states of Manipur and Nagaland are two of the six high HIV prevalence states in the country, and the main route of HIV transmission is injecting drug use. Understanding the pathways to injecting drug use can facilitate early intervention with HIV prevention programs. While several studies of initiation into injecting drug use have been conducted in developed countries, little is known about the situation in developing country settings. The aim of this study was to increase understanding of the contextual factors associated with initiation into injecting drug use in north-east India, and the influence of these factors on subsequent initiation of others. In mid 2006 a cross-sectional survey among 200 injecting drug users (IDUs) was undertaken in partnership with local NGOs that provide HIV prevention and care services and advocacy for IDUs in Imphal, Manipur and Dimapur, Nagaland. The questionnaire elicited detailed information about the circumstances of the first injection and the contexts of participants' lives. Demographic information, self-reported HIV status, and details about initiation of others were also recorded. Initiation into injecting drug use occurred at 20 years of age. The drugs most commonly injected were Spasmo-proxyvon (65.5%) and heroin (30.5%). In 53.5% cases, a needle belonging to someone else was used. Two-thirds (66.7%) had used the drug previously, and 91.0% had known other IDUs prior to initiation (mean = 7.5 others). The first injection was usually administered by another person (94.5%), mostly a friend (84.1%). Initiation is a social event; 98% had others present (mean = 2.7 others). Almost 70% of participants had initiated at least one other (mean = 5 others). Initiation of others was independently associated with being male and unemployed; having IDU friends and using alcohol around the time of initiation; and having been taught to inject and not paid for the drug at the time of initiation. Targeting harm reduction messages to (non-injecting) drug users and capitalising on existing IDU social networks to promote safe injecting and deter initiation of others are possible strategies for reducing the impact of injecting drug use and the HIV epidemic in north-east India.
    Harm Reduction Journal 02/2007; 4:19. DOI:10.1186/1477-7517-4-19 · 1.26 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: India's HIV epidemic is not yet contained and prevention in populations most at risk (high-risk groups) needs to be enhanced and expanded. HIV prevalence as measured through surveillance of antenatal and sexually transmitted disease clinics is the chief source of information on HIV in India, but these data cannot provide real insight into where transmission is occurring or guide programme strategy. The factors that influence the Indian epidemic are the size, behaviours, and disease burdens of high-risk groups, their interaction with bridge populations and general population sexual networks, and migration and mobility of both bridge populations and high-risk groups. The interplay of these forces has resulted in substantial epidemics in several pockets of many Indian states that could potentially ignite subepidemics in other, currently low prevalence, parts of the country. The growth of HIV, unless contained, could have serious consequences for India's development. India's national response to HIV began in 1992 and has shown early success in some states. The priority is to build on those successes by increasing prevention coverage of high-risk groups to saturation level, enhancing access and uptake of care and treatment services, ensuring systems and capacity for evidence-based programming, and building in-country technical and managerial capacity.
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 09/2006; 6(8):508-21. DOI:10.1016/S1473-3099(06)70551-5 · 19.45 Impact Factor

Preview (2 Sources)

1 Download
Available from