Differences by sex in associations between injection drug risks and drug crime conviction among people who inject drugs in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Differences by sex in associations between injection drug risks and drug crime conviction among people who inject drugs in Almaty, Kazakhstan
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Background: The criminalization of drug use leads to high rates of drug crime convictions for engaging in injection drug use behaviors, introducing barriers to HIV prevention and drug treatment for PWID. Females (FWID) face unique vulnerabilities to HIV compared to males (MWID) in Kazakhstan. This study examined sex differences in associations between HIV/HCV infection, HIV knowledge, injection drug risk behaviors, and conviction for a drug crime in a sample of people who inject drugs (PWID) in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Methods: Analyses were performed on baseline data from 510 PWID and stratified by males (MWID) (329) and females (FWID) (181) from Kazakhstan in a couples-focused HIV prevention intervention. Logistic regression analyses using mixed effects (AOR) examined associations between HIV/HCV infection, HIV knowledge, injection drug risk behaviors, drug use severity, drug treatment history and conviction for a drug crime.

Conclusion: High-risk behaviors, HCV infection and more severe substance use disorders are associated with drug crime conviction for PWID, particularly FWID. Structural interventions are necessary to increase the engagement of PWID with drug crime convictions in HIV prevention and substance abuse treatment.

Published in 2018 by International Journal of Drug Policy