Objective: To assess the HIV serostatus of injection drug users (IDU) in Ukraine, as well as associations between serostatus and selected demographic and risk factors.
Design and methods: IDU were recruited from the streets in Kiev, Odessa and Makeevka/Donesk. Participants were interviewed using an HIV risk behavior assessment and tested for HIV with a finger-stick rapid test. Multiple logistic regression was used to identify determinants of HIV infection.
Results: Of the 891 IDUs surveyed, one-third came from each site and 22% were female. Their mean age was 29 years and on average they had been injecting for slightly more than 10 years. Seven hundred and seventy-eight of the total sample did not know their HIV status when first interviewed; they are the participants in this investigation. Overall, 33% tested positive for HIV, including 34% in Kiev, 51% in Odessa and 17% in Makeevka/Donesk. Independent predictors of HIV included injecting a sedative/opiate mixture, female sex, having sex with a person who was HIV positive or whose HIV status was unknown and injecting daily. HIV-negative IDU were significantly younger than those infected, they were more likely to be from Makeevka/Donesk and they were more likely to have been sexually active.
Conclusions: Rates of HIV infection among IDU vary considerably across Ukraine, although even in the site with the lowest rate nearly one in five was infected. The extent of drug and sex-related risk behaviors calls for interventions to reduce the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.