Sharing of drug injection equipment is a well-established risk factor for the transmission of viral infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, there are multiple mechanisms through which people who inject drugs (PWID) can acquire and transmit HIV. Differences in drug using and sexual behaviors among heterosexual males, males who have sex with males (MSM), and females who inject drugs may explain health disparities.
Data were collected in San Francisco by the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) System of PWID in 2012, and were analyzed to compare the sexual behaviors, drug use behaviors, and prevalence of viral infections among heterosexual males, MSM, and females.
Using a weighted analysis for the RDS sampling design, we estimate that 3.7% of heterosexual males who inject drugs, 24.0% of MSM, and 13.0% of females who inject drugs are living with HIV. Females and heterosexual males primarily injected heroin, while MSM primarily injected methamphetamine. MSM were most likely to have received goods or money for sex and have unprotected intercourse.
These data demonstrate differences in risk behaviors and prevalence of viral infections among heterosexual males, MSM, and females. The results also suggest that public health programs prioritizing the different populations of PWID are necessary.