Impact of conflict and displacement on risk behaviours amongst people who inject drugs in Kabul, Afghanistan

Int J Drug Policy. 2016 Jan:27:173-7. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.07.014. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Background: Theoretical work posits that drug-related risk behaviour increases during armed conflict; however, few studies have been conducted in conflict settings. The objective of this analysis is to determine whether conflict or local displacement impact risk behaviours among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Methods: Consenting PWIDs aged ≥18 years completed interviews at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18, and 24 months of follow-up. Quarters with peak conflict or local displacement exposure were defined and associations with injecting drug use and sexual risk behaviours analysed with generalized estimating equations.

Results: Of 483 PWID enrolled, 385 completed ≥1 follow-up visit (483.8 person-years) between 2007 and 2009. All participants were male, with 35% initiating injecting as a refugee. Sharing syringes (Odds Ratio (OR))=8.53, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.58 – 28.2) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms (OR=1.72, 95% CI: 1.00 – 2.96) increased significantly during peak conflict quarters, while odds of STI symptoms (OR=0.06, 95% CI: 0.02 – 0.20) and arrest (OR=0.61, 95% CI: 0.40 – 0.93) were significantly lower during periods of displacement.

Conclusion: Syringe sharing significantly increased during peak conflict periods amongst PWID in Kabul. Programming should include instruction for coping with conflict and prepare clients for harm reduction needs during conflict.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-*
  • Afghanistan / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult