Correlates of unsafe equipment sharing among injecting drug users in St. Petersburg, Russia

Eur Addict Res. 2009;15(3):163-70. doi: 10.1159/000220344. Epub 2009 Jun 5.


Aims: To assess among injecting drug users (IDUs) in St. Petersburg, Russia, the urban environment, social norms and individual correlates of unsafe injecting.

Methods: Between December 2004 and January 2007, 446 IDUs were interviewed in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Results: Prevalence of HCV was 96% and HIV 44%. 17% reported receptive syringe sharing after an HIV-infected IDU, 49% distributive syringe sharing, 76% sharing cookers, 73% sharing filters and 71% syringe-mediated drug sharing when not all syringes were new. Urban environmental characteristics correlated with sharing cookers and syringe-mediated sharing, and social norms correlated with receptive and distributive syringe sharing and sharing cookers. Individual correlates included cleaning used syringes (all 5 dependent variables) and self-report of HIV infection (receptive and distributive syringe sharing).

Conclusion: HIV status disclosure is an unreliable but frequently used HIV prevention method among IDUs in St. Petersburg, who reported alarmingly high levels of injecting equipment sharing. Voluntary counseling and testing should be widely available for this population. Ethnography is needed to assess the effectiveness of the syringe cleaning process. Prevention interventions need to be ongoing among IDUs in St. Petersburg, and should incorporate urban environmental factors and social norms, which may involve peer education and social network interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Needle Sharing / adverse effects*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*