It is unclear whether knowing of current HIV status is associated with change in injecting behaviors among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Iran. The objective of the present study was to determine whether awareness of HIV positive status is associated with a reduction in injecting risk behaviors, after matching for socio-demographic characteristics.
Five hundred male PWID were recruited in 2014 from two drop-in centers (DICs) in Kermanshah west of Iran. Trained interviewers collected data on socio-demographic characteristics, HIV testing and drug-related risk behaviors over the last month prior to interview using a structured questionnaire. Our primary exposure of interest was awareness of HIV status, used to group participants into three categories: positive, negative, unaware. We used coarsened exact matching to make the three groups statistically equivalent based on age, place of residence, education and income, and then compared them regarding the proportion of borrowing, lending and reuse of syringes.
Matched sample (n=320) had a mean age ± standard deviation (SD) of 33.5 ±7.6 yr. Overall, 25% (95% CI: 14%, 32%) of participants reported "borrowing a syringe" in the past month and 15% (95% CI: 7%, 22%) of them reported "lending a used syringe" to others in the past month. In comparison to PWID who were unaware of their HIV status, those knew they were HIV positive (OR 1.68, CI95%1.32-2.81) or negative (OR 1.54; 95% CI: 1.28, 2.71) were both more likely to report borrowing syringes in past month.
PWID WHO know they are positive for HIV are more likely to borrow another person's syringe, to report reuse of their own used syringes and less likely to report lending their syringes to others. Strategies to scale up HIV testing and counseling for PWID, which also increase awareness of HIV status, may decrease injecting related the risk behaviors.