The goal of this study was to examine specific factors placing young (aged <30) women who inject drugs at higher risk for HIV, and to establish the need for targeted interventions within this population.
A national cross-sectional sero-survey was conducted in 2004–2005 in six regions in Poland. A snowball sample of ever-injectors was recruited from drug treatment facilities and the surrounding community. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs).
A total of 491 injection drug users younger than 30 were recruited, of whom 159 were women and 332 were men. The prevalence of HIV was 16.4% and 9.6% among women and men, respectively. In multivariate analysis, young female injectors whose education terminated at the primary level were more likely to be HIV-positive compared to males with a similar level of education (PR = 3.34, 95% CI = 1.86–6.00) and more highly educated women (PR = 4.16, 95% CI = 2.21–7.82).
This study confirms an elevated risk of HIV among under-educated young women. Suggestions for specific interventions to reduce HIV transmission are presented. Additional research is needed to quantify the differential distribution of risk behaviors which amplify their likelihood of transmission.