Double jeopardy--drug and sex risks among Russian women who inject drugs: initial feasibility and efficacy results of a small randomized controlled trial

Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2012 Jan 10:7:1. doi: 10.1186/1747-597X-7-1.


Background: With HIV prevalence estimated at 20% among female injecting drug users (IDUs) in St. Petersburg, Russia, there is a critical need to address the HIV risks of this at-risk population. This study characterized HIV risks associated with injecting drug use and sex behaviors and assessed the initial feasibility and efficacy of an adapted Woman-Focused intervention, the Women's CoOp, relative to a Nutrition control to reduce HIV risk behaviors among female IDUs in an inpatient detoxification drug treatment setting.

Method: Women (N = 100) were randomized into one of two one-hour long intervention conditions--the Woman-Focused intervention (n = 51) or a time and attention-matched Nutrition control condition (n = 49).

Results: The results showed that 57% of the participants had been told that they were HIV-positive. At 3-month follow-up, both groups showed reduced levels of injecting frequency. However, participants in the Woman-Focused intervention reported, on average, a lower frequency of partner impairment at last sex act and a lower average number of unprotected vaginal sex acts with their main sex partner than the Nutrition condition.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that improvements in sexual risk reduction are possible for these at-risk women and that more comprehensive treatment is needed to address HIV and drug risks in this vulnerable population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Therapy / methods
  • Nutrition Therapy / psychology
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Russia
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / diet therapy
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / prevention & control*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / therapy*
  • Unsafe Sex / prevention & control*
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology
  • Women's Health / education