Potential bridges of heterosexual HIV transmission from drug users to the general population in St. Petersburg, Russia: is it easy to be a young female?

J Urban Health. 2009 Jul;86 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):121-30. doi: 10.1007/s11524-009-9364-5. Epub 2009 Jun 16.


The epidemic of HIV in St. Petersburg, which is currently concentrated among injection drug users (IDUs), may be penetrating into the general population. Non-IDUs who have IDU sex partners (SP) could be potential bridges in an expanding epidemic. To investigate potential bridges, we accrued a convenience sample of 288 non-IDUs whose HIV diagnosis was attributed to sexual transmission and we determined the proportion that had IDUs among their SP. Having IDU SP ever (lifetime) and IDU SP in the last year were the key variables for the analysis of potential bridges in this study. The interaction of gender and age was found to be a significant predictor of having lifetime IDU SP (p = 0.006, chi (2) test) and IDU SP in the last year (p = 0.05, chi (2) test): females aged 26 and younger were more likely to have both lifetime IDU SP and IDU SP in the last year. Among the group of young females, 46% reported ever having an IDU SP. Out of young women reporting ever having an IDU SP, 85% also reported at least one lifetime non-IDU SP. Among the females aged 26 or younger, a lower level of education (odds ratio [OR] = 2.7, confidence interval [CI] = 1.1-6.7), being born in St. Petersburg (OR = 2.9, CI = 1.2-7.2), and alcohol use in the last 30 days (OR = 3.5, CI = 1.3-9.6) were significant correlates for ever having had an IDU SP. Urgent efforts are necessary to expand HIV prevention to target the potential bridging population to prevent further transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Heterosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Russia
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous*
  • Young Adult