This study examined associations between mortality and demographic and risk characteristics among young injection drug users in San Francisco, California, and compared the mortality rate with that of the population. A total of 644 young (<30 years) injection drug users completed a baseline interview and were enrolled in a prospective cohort study, known as the UFO (“U Find Out”) Study, from November 1997 to December 2007. Using the National Death Index, the authors identified 38 deaths over 4,167 person-years of follow-up, yielding a mortality rate of 9.1 (95% confidence interval: 6.6, 12.5) per 1,000 person-years. This mortality rate was 10 times that of the general population. The leading causes of death were overdose (57.9%), self-inflicted injury (13.2%), trauma/accidents (10.5%), and injection drug user-related medical conditions (13.1%). Mortality incidence was significantly higher among those who reported injecting heroin most days in the past month (adjusted hazard ratio = 5.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.4, 24.3). The leading cause of death in this group was overdose, and primary use of heroin was the only significant risk factor for death observed in the study. These findings highlight the continued need for public health interventions that address the risk of overdose in this population in order to reduce premature deaths.
drug users; epidemiology; hepatitis C; mortality; overdose; young adult
Treatment for acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has significantly better outcomes than treatment for chronic infection. The short window of the acute period poses challenges for young injection drug users (IDU), who are at highest risk of HCV infection, to demonstrate treatment candidacy. We recruited patients with acute HCV from a prospective cohort study to examine clinical and behavioral issues related to treatment candidacy. We report on outcomes and how nursing case management affected candidacy. All 5 acutely-infected participants reported daily drug use at baseline. All established primary care and decreased their drug use. None received treatment for their acute infection; one was treated within 12 months of infection. . Establishing treatment candidacy for young IDU in the acute phase involves various health domains. Acute infection's short period poses many challenges to establishing candidacy, but it is a window of opportunity to engage young IDU in health care.
acute hepatitis C infection; hepatitis C virus treatment; injection drug use; youth
Amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use has increased in Cambodia and emerged as a significant problem among female sex workers (FSWs), potentially contributing to increased risk of HIV. We examined the prevalence of ATS use and its effect on sexual risk behaviors, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) among FSWs in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
A one-year prospective study among young women engaged in sex work in brothels, entertainment establishments and on a freelance basis. Socio-demographics, sexual risks, and recent ATS use were assessed by self-report. Blood and urine samples were collected to detect HIV, Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC). Bivariate and multivariate longitudinal analyses were conducted to assess the effects of ATS use on number of sex partners, inconsistent condom use with paying partners and incident STI.
ATS use was higher among women working freelance (35.6%) and in brothels (34.8%) compared to women working in entertainment establishments (17.7%) or in multiple venues (14.8%). ATS users reported more sex partners and days drunk in the previous month. In multivariate longitudinal analysis, ATS use was associated with having a higher number of sex partners (Adjusted Risk Ratio 1.49; 95% CI: 1.00–2.21) and incident STI (Adjusted Odds Ratio 5.41; 95% CI: 1.15–25.48), but not inconsistent condom use with paying partner.
ATS users had more sex partners, high level of alcohol use, and were at increased risk of STI. Our findings underscore ATS use as an important emerging risk exposure that should be integrated into HIV prevention interventions targeting this population.
mphetamine-type stimulant; HIV/STI; Female sex workers; Cambodia; Risk behaviors
Although cervical cancer is the leading cancer in Cambodia, most women receive no routine screening for cervical cancer and few treatment options exist. Moreover, nothing is known regarding the prevalence of cervical HPV or the genotypes present among women in the country. Young sexually active women, especially those with multiple sex partners are at highest risk of HPV infection. We examine the prevalence and genotypes of cervical HPV, as well as the associated risk factors among young women engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We conducted a cross-sectional study among 220 young women (15–29 years) engaged in sex work in different venues including brothels or entertainment establishments, and on a freelance basis in streets, parks and private apartments. Cervical specimens were collected using standard cytobrush technique. HPV DNA was tested for by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and genotyping using type-specific probes for 29 individual HPV types, as well as for a mixture of 10 less common HPV types. All participants were also screened for HIV status using blood samples. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess risk factors for any or multiple HPV infection.
The prevalence of cervical HPV 41.1%. HPV 51 and 70 were the most common (5.0%), followed by 16 (4.6%), 71 (4.1%) and 81 (3.7%). Thirty-six women (16.4%) were infected with multiple genotypes and 23.3% were infected with at least one oncogenic HPV type. In multivariate analyses, having HIV infection and a higher number of sexual partners were associated with cervical HPV infection. Risk factors for infection with multiple genotypes included working as freelance female sex workers (FSW) or in brothels, recent binge use of drugs, high number of sexual partners, and HIV infection.
This is the first Cambodian study on cervical HPV prevalence and genotypes. We found that HPV infection was common among young FSW, especially among women infected with HIV. These results underscore the urgent need for accessible cervical cancer screening and treatment, as well as for a prophylactic vaccine that covers the HPV subtypes present in Cambodia.
To assess concordance between self-reported amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use and toxicology results among young female sex workers (FSW) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Cross-sectional data from the Young Women’s Health Study-2 (YWHS-2), a prospective study of HIV and ATS use among young (15 to 29 years) FSW in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, was analyzed. The YWHS-2 assessed sociodemographic characteristics, HIV serology, HIV risk, and ATS use by self-report and urine toxicology testing at each quarterly visit, the second of which provided data for this assessment. Outcomes include sensitivity, specificity, positive- and negative predictive values (overall and stratified by age), sex-work setting, and HIV status.
Among 200 women, prevalence of positive toxicology screening for ATS use was 14% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.2, 18.9%) and concurrent prevalence of self-reported ATS was 15.5% (95% CI, 10.4, 20.6%). The sensitivity and specificity of self-reported ATS use compared to positive toxicology test results was 89.3% (25/28), and 96.5% (166/172), respectively. The positive predictive value of self-reported ATS use was 80.6% (25/31); the negative predictive value was 98.2% (166/169). Some differences in concordance between self-report and urine toxicology results were noted in analyses stratified by age group and sex-work setting but not by HIV status.
Results indicate a high prevalence of ATS use among FSW in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and high concordance between self-reported and toxicology-test confirmed ATS use.
The risk environment framework provides a valuable but under-utilised heuristic for understanding environmental vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers. Brothels have been shown to be safer than street-based sex work, with higher rates of consistent condom use and lower HIV prevalence. While entertainment venues are also assumed to be safer than street-based sex work, few studies have examined environmental influences on vulnerability to HIV in this context.
As part of the Young Women's Health Study, a prospective observational study of young women (15-29 years) engaged in sex work in Phnom Penh, we conducted in-depth interviews (n = 33) to explore vulnerability to HIV/STI and related harms. Interviews were conducted in Khmer by trained interviewers, transcribed and translated into English and analysed for thematic content.
The intensification of anti-prostitution and anti-trafficking efforts in Cambodia has increased the number of women working in entertainment venues and on the street. Our results confirm that street-based sex work places women at risk of HIV/STI infection and identify significant environmental risks related to entertainment-based sex work, including limited access to condoms and alcohol-related intoxication. Our data also indicate that exposure to violence and interactions with the police are mediated by the settings in which sex is sold. In particular, transacting sex in environments such as guest houses where there is little or no oversight in the form of peer or managerial support or protection, may increase vulnerability to HIV/STI.
Entertainment venues may also provide a high risk environment for sex work. Our results indicate that strategies designed to address HIV prevention among brothel-based FSWs in Cambodia have not translated well to street and entertainment-based sex work venues in which increasing numbers of women are working. There is an urgent need for targeted interventions, supported by legal and policy reforms, designed to reduce the environmental risks of sex work in these settings. Future research should seek to investigate sex work venues as risk environments, explore the role of different business models in mediating these environments, and identify and quantify exposure to risk in different occupational settings.
sex work; risk; environment; vulnerability; HIV; STI; young women; entertainment; Cambodia
Trials to evaluate the efficacy of preventive HCV vaccines will need participation from high risk HCV seronegative injection drug users (IDUs). To guide trial planning, we assessed willingness of young IDU in San Francisco to participate in HCV vaccine efficacy trials and evaluate knowledge of vaccine trial concepts: placebo, randomization and blinding. During 2006 and 2007, a total of 67 participants completed the survey. A substantial proportion (88%) would definitely (44%) or probably (44%) be willing to participate in a randomized trial, but knowledge of vaccine trial concepts was low. Reported willingness to participate in an HCV vaccine trial decreased with increasing trial duration, with 67% of participants surveyed willing to participate in a trial of one year duration compared to 43% of participants willing to participate in a trial of 4 years duration. Willingness to enroll in HCV vaccine trials was higher in young IDU than reported by most at-risk populations in HIV vaccine trials. Educational strategies will be needed to ensure understanding of key concepts prior to implementing HCV vaccine trials.
Hepatitis C; injection drug use; vaccine trial
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype (GT) has become an important measure in the diagnosis and monitoring of HCV infection treatment. In the United States (U.S.) HCV GT 1 is reported as the most common infecting GT among chronically infected patients. In Europe, however, recent studies have suggested that the epidemiology of HCV GTs is changing.
We assessed HCV GT distribution in 460 patients from three HCV-infected high risk populations in San Francisco, and examined patterns by birth cohort to assess temporal trends. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess factors independently associated with GT 1 infection compared to other GTs (2, 3, and 4).
Overall, GT 1 was predominant (72.4%), however younger injection drug users (IDU) had a lower proportion of GT 1 infections (54.7%) compared to older IDU and HIV-infected patients (80.5% and 76.6%, respectively). Analysis by birth cohort showed increasing proportions of non-GT 1 infections associated with year of birth: birth before 1970 was independently associated with higher adjusted odds of GT 1: AOR 2.03 (95% CI: 1.23, 3.34). African-Americans as compared to whites also had higher adjusted odds of GT 1 infection (AOR: 3.37; 95% CI: 1.89, 5.99).
Although, HCV GT 1 remains the most prevalent GT, especially among older groups, changes in GT distribution could have significant implications for how HCV might be controlled on a population level and treated on an individual level.
hepatitis C virus; HCV; GT; injection drug use; HIV; birth cohort; African-American
Young injection drug users (IDU) are at high risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV). We sought to determine whether perceiving one's injecting partner to be HCV positive was associated with decreased odds of engaging in receptive needle/syringe sharing (RNS) or ancillary equipment sharing (AES) with that partner.
We conducted a cross-sectional study from 2003 to 2007 in San Francisco (n=212 participants) to examine whether perceived partner HCV status was associated with RNS and AES within injecting partnerships (n=492 partnerships) of young (under age 30) IDU who are HCV antibody negative.
RNS and AES (in the absence of RNS) occurred in 23% and 66% of injecting partnerships in the prior month. The odds of engaging in RNS were significantly lower for relationships in which the participant reported that his/her partner was HCV positive (odds ratio [OR] 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.95). This association was attenuated when adjusted for reusing one's own needle/syringe (adjusted OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.28-1.15). The odds of engaging in AES were lower for participants who did not know the HCV status of their partner, only among non-sexual partnerships (OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.29-0.76).
Because perceiving one's partner to be HCV positive was associated with decreased RNS, increased HCV testing and partner disclosure may be warranted. AES was common and was decreased only among non-sexual partnerships in which the HCV status of the partner was not known. This suggests that interventions to reduce AES in young IDU must be widespread.
We undertook qualitative interviews with 209 injecting drug users (primarily heroin) in three Russian cities: Moscow, Barnaul, and Volgograd. We explored drug injectors’ accounts of HIV and health risk. Policing practices and how these violate health and self emerged as a primary theme. Findings show that policing practices violate health and rights directly, but also indirectly, through the reproduction of social suffering. Extrajudicial policing practices produce fear and terror in the day-to-day lives of drug injectors, and ranged from the mundane (arrest without legal justification; the planting of evidence to expedite arrest or detainment; the extortion of money or drugs for police gain) to the extreme (physical violence as a means of facilitating ‘confession’ and as an act of ‘moral’ punishment without legal cause or rationale; the use of methods of ‘torture’; and rape). We identify the concept of police bespredel – living with the sense that there are ‘no limits’ to police power – as key to perpetuating fear and terror, internalized stigma, and a sense of fatalist risk acceptance. ‘Police besprediel’ is analyzed as a form of structural violence, contributing to ‘oppression illness’. Yet we also identify cases of resistance to such oppression, characterised by strategies to preserve dignity and hope. We identify hope for change as a resource of risk reduction as well as escape, if only temporarily, from the pervasiveness of social suffering. Future drug policies, and the state responses they sponsor, should set out to promote public health while protecting human rights, hope and human dignity.
Injecting drug use; human rights; HIV/AIDS; risk; fear; police; Russia; structural violence
The rationale for screening populations at risk for hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) includes the possibility of altering risk behaviors that impact disease progression and transmission. This study prospectively examined young injection drug users (IDU) to determine if behaviors changed after they were made aware of HCV seroconversion.
We estimated the effects of HCV seroconversion coupled with post-test counseling on risk behaviors (alcohol use, non-injection and injection drug use, lending and sharing injecting equipment, and having sex without a condom) and depression symptoms using conditional logistic regression, fitting odds-ratios for immediately after disclosure and 6 and 12 months later, and adjusting for secular effects.
112 participants met inclusion criteria, i.e. they were documented HCV seronegative at study onset and subsequently seroconverted during the follow-up period, with infection confirmed by HCV RNA testing. HCV seroconversion was independently associated with a decreased likelihood of consuming alcohol (OR=0.51; 95% CI: 0.27 to 0.97, p=0.04) and using non-injection drugs (OR=0.40; 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.81, p=0.01) immediately after disclosure, however, results were not sustained over time. There were significant (p<0.05) declines in the use of alcohol, injection and non-injection drugs, and sharing equipment associated with time that were independent from the effect of seroconversion.
Making young IDU aware of their HCV seroconversion may have a modest effect on alcohol and non-injection drug use that is not sustained over time.
Hepatitis C virus; injection drug use; screening
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, clearance and reinfection are best studied in injection drug users (IDU) who have the highest incidence and are representative of most infections.
A prospective cohort of HCV negative young IDU was followed from 2000 to 2007, to identify acute and incident HCV and prospectively study infection outcomes.
Among 1,191 young IDU screened, 731 (61.4%) were HCV negative, and 520 (71.1%) were enrolled into follow-up. Cumulative HCV incidence was 26.7 per 100 person years of observation (PYO) (95% CI, 21.5, 31.6). 95 (70.4%) of 135 acute/incident HCV infections were followed; 21% cleared HCV. Women had a significantly higher incidence of viral clearance compared to men (age-adjusted relative hazard 2.91, 95% CI, 1.68, 5.03) and also showed a significantly faster rate of early HCV viremia decline. Estimated reinfection rate was 24.6 per 100 PYO (95% CI, 11.7, 51.6). Among seven individuals, multiple episodes of HCV reinfection and re-clearance were observed.
In this large sample of young IDU, females show demonstrative differences in their rates of viral clearance and kinetics of early viral decline. Recurring reinfection and re-clearance suggest possible protection against persistent infection. These results should inform HCV clinical care and vaccine development.
hepatitis C virus; HCV; injection drug use; acute HCV infection; clearance; viral load; reinfection; female
Studies of injection drug use cessation have largely sampled adults in drug treatment settings. Little is known about injection cessation and relapse among young injection drug users (IDU) in the community.
A total of 365 HCV-negative IDU under age 30 years were recruited by street outreach and interviewed quarterly for a prospective cohort between January 2000 and February 2008. Participants were followed for a total of 638 person-years and 1996 visits. We used survival analysis techniques to identify correlates of injection cessation (≥3 months) and relapse to injection.
67% of subjects were male, median age was 22 years (interquartile range (IQR) 20 - 26) and median years injecting was 3.6 (IQR 1.3 – 6.5). 28.8% ceased injecting during the follow-up period. Among those that ceased injecting, nearly one-half resumed drug injection on subsequent visits, one-quarter maintained injecting cessation, and one-quarter were lost to follow-up. Participating in a drug treatment program in the last 3 months and injecting less than 30 times per month were associated with injection cessation. Injecting heroin or heroin mixed with other drugs, injecting the residue from previously used drug preparation equipment, drinking alcohol, and using benzodiazepines were negatively associated with cessation. Younger age was associated with relapse to injection.
These results suggest that factors associated with stopping injecting involve multiple areas of intervention, including access to drug treatment and behavioral approaches to reduce injection and sustain cessation. The higher incidence of relapse in the younger subjects in this cohort underscores the need for earlier detection and treatment programs targeted to adolescents and transition-age youth.
Injection drug use; Cessation; Relapse; Youth
Background Despite an effective vaccine, 60,000 new HBV infections were reported in the US in 2004; 95% in adults. We evaluate HBV sero-prevalence, risk behaviors and self-reported vaccination among Latino immigrant, Asian immigrant and US born low income men in five northern California counties. Methods Population based, cross sectional survey of HBV sero-prevalence and risk behaviors in men aged 18 to 35 years. Results Among 1,512 men screened, Asian immigrants were most likely to have had prior HBV infection (15.1%) and chronic infection (3.8%) compared to US born (prior 5.1%, chronic 0.6%) and Latino immigrant men (prior 2.0%, chronic 0.3%.) Reported HBV vaccination was lowest for Latino immigrants (12%) compared to Asian immigrants and US born men (35% in both.) Latino immigrants reported less educational attainment, medical insurance coverage and access to a physician in the last six months. Discussion Healthcare providers should routinely screen Asian immigrants for HBV regardless of their self reported vaccination status. Latino immigrants may comprise an important group of under-vaccinated, at risk persons in California. HBV testing and vaccination of immigrants soon after US arrival should be encouraged.
Hepatitis B; Hepatitis B vaccine; Immigrants; California