A comparison of HIV risk between women and men who inject drugs

R. Dwyer, D. Richardson, M. W. Ross, A. Wodak, M. E. Miller, J. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Although there is growing evidence of differences between women and men who inject drugs (IDUs) in terms of level of risk for HIV infection, very little research has been conducted specifically addressing the risk practices of women IDUs. This study formed part of a national study of HIV infection risks in IDUs and the purpose of the present analysis was an exploration of gender differences in HIV risk practices, focusing on the HIV risk practices of IDU women. 1,245 IDUs from the inner city area of Sydney took part in this study. Of these, 908 were men and 331 were women. Notable results were that female respondents were more likely to report sharing needles, they injected heroin more times in a typical using month and were more likely to have shared with someone they later found out was HIV seropositive. Female respondents also reported more sexual partners than men, were more likely to engage in prostitution, and were more likely to have sexual partners who were themselves IDUs. The results provide support for the proposition that women who inject drugs may be at greater risk of HIV infection through both their drug taking and their sexual practices. Further research is needed to explore the reasons underlying the risk practices of women who inject drugs and an understanding of these factors needs to be incorporated into HIV risk-reduction and drug harm-reduction policies and programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-389
Number of pages11
JournalAIDS Education and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1994


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