Among persons who inject drugs, women have a higher HIV prevalence (than men) in many settings. Understanding how gender affects risk for infection among HIV-negative, and transmission among HIV-positive people who currently or previously injected drugs is key to designing effective prevention and treatment programs. We analyzed data from 291 persons living with HIV who had ever injected drugs. Participants were drawn from the Russia Alcohol Research Collaboration on HIV/AIDS cohort (2012-2015) to examine associations between female gender and HIV transmission risk. Primary outcomes were sharing drug injecting equipment (e.g., needle/syringes) and condomless sex. Secondary outcomes were alcohol use before sharing drug injecting equipment; before condomless sex; and both sharing drug injecting equipment and condomless sex. Logistic regression models assessed associations between gender and outcomes, controlling for demographics, partner HIV status and use of antiretroviral treatment. Female gender was not significantly associated with sharing drug injecting equipment [aOR = 1.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.85-2.46, p value = 0.18] but was associated with condomless sex (aOR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.12-3.23, p = 0.02) in adjusted models. Female gender was not significantly associated with any secondary outcomes. Better understanding of risky sex and drug use behaviors among people who currently or previously injected drugs can support the design of effective gender-tailored HIV prevention interventions.
Keywords: Drug risk behaviors; Gender; HIV risk behaviors; Persons living with HIV (PLHIV); Persons who inject drugs (PWIDs); Russia.