Introduction: HIV and HCV risk behaviors among injection drug users (IDUs) in two urban areas in Pakistan were identified. Methods: From May to June 2003, 351 IDUs recruited in harm-reduction drop-in centers operated by a national non-governmental organization in Lahore (Punjab province) and Quetta (Balochistan province) completed an interviewer-administered survey and were tested for HIV and HCV. Multivariable logistic regression identified correlates of seropositivity, stratifying by site. All study participants provided written, informed consent. Results: All but two were male; median age was 35 and <50% had any formal education. None were HIV-positive; HCV seroprevalence was 88%. HIV awareness was relatively high, but HCV awareness was low (19%). Injection behaviors and percutaneous exposures such as drawing blood into a syringe while injecting ('jerking'), longer duration of injection, and receiving a street barber shave were significantly associated with HCV seropositivity. Discussion: Despite no HIV cases, overall HCV prevalence was very high, signaling the potential for a future HIV epidemic among IDUs across Pakistan. Programs to increase needle exchange, drug treatment and HIV and HCV awareness should be implemented immediately.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health