In the Middle East, the HIV epidemic among injecting drug users (IDUs) seems to be in an early phase, which increases the importance of prevention and systematic risk surveillance. To gain information about HIV and HCV infection rates among IDUs in the West Bank, a biobehavioral survey was conducted using time-location sampling in the Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem governorates in 2013. The researchers recruited 288 Palestinian IDUs ages 16-64 (Mage = 39.2, SD = 11.11). While no HIV cases were found in the sample, 41% of participants tested positive for HCV. Imprisonment was common among participants (83%), so we explored the association of incarceration experience with HCV infection and HIV testing. In multivariate assessments, incarceration was shown to increase the odds of being infected with HCV and ever tested for HIV. HIV prevention should be strengthened in West Bank prisons and correctional facilities, and imprisonment for drug use re-examined.
Keywords: HCV; HIV; HIV testing; Injecting drug use; incarceration; the West Bank.