Background and objectives: Risk-taking behaviors differ among women and men injection drug users (IDU).
Goal: To specify the nature of sexual and drug risk-taking among women IDU and ex-IDU and how it relates to partner characteristics.
Design: A cross-sectional analysis of 324 HIV+ subjects enrolled into a prospective cohort study in Marseille, France.
Results: Women, as compared with men, were considerably more likely to report nonuse of condoms with a main partner (31% versus 12%). They were more likely to shoot with a partner at last injection (39% versus 12%), but far less likely to sterilize used needles (4% versus 16%). Two thirds of both men and women reported consistent condom use with a seronegative partner, but only 47% of men and 23% of women reported the same with a seropositive partner. Among the women only, needle and syringe sharing was associated with consistent use of a condom.
Conclusions: Women reported behaviors which protect their partners from STD infection more frequently than behaviors which protect themselves. Greater attention must be paid to sexual risk-taking among HIV+ women.