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Keywords:

  • Epidemiology;
  • injecting drug use;
  • HIV prevalence;
  • supervised injecting facilities;
  • psychostimulants

Abstract

Objective: Measure the self-reported prevalence of HIV, history of HIV testing and associated risk factors among injecting drug users (IDUs) attending the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC).

Methods: Cross-sectional survey of IDUs attending the Sydney MSIC (n=9,778).

Results: The majority of IDUs had been tested for HIV (94%), most within the preceding 12 months. Self-reported prevalence of HIV was only 2% (n=162) and homosexuality (AOR 20.68), bisexuality (AOR 5.30), male gender (AOR 3.33), mainly injecting psychostimulants (AOR 2.02), use of local health service (AOR 1.56) and increasing age (AOR 1.62) were independently associated. Among the 195 homosexual male sample 23% were self-reported being HIV positive. HIV positive homosexual males were more likely to report mainly psychostimulant injecting than other drugs, a finding not replicated among the heterosexual males.

Conclusions: The associations in this sample are consistent with other data indicating Australia has successfully averted an epidemic of HIV among heterosexual IDUs. The absence of any significant associations between HIV positive sero-status and the injecting-related behaviours that increase vulnerability to BBV transmission suggests that HIV infection in this group may be related to sexual behaviours. In particular, the strong associations between homosexual males and psychostimulant injectors with HIV positive sero-status suggests that patterns of infection within this group reflect the epidemiology of HIV in Australia more generally, where men who have sex with men remain most vulnerable to infection.