Background: Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia are experiencing a rapidly growing HIVepidemic, which has historically been driven by injection drug use, but is more recently being fueled byheterosexual transmission.
Methods: This paper examines HIV and HCV infection, as well as sexual and drug-related risks amongfemale partners of men who inject drugs (MWID), comparing females who inject drugs (FWID) to non-injecting female partners on socio-demographic, relationship context, and structural characteristics.
Results: The prevalence rate of HIV was 30.1% among FWID and 10.4% among non-IDU female partnersof MWID. The prevalence rate of HCV was 89.8% among FWID and 14.8% among female non-IDUs. Lessthan one-fifth of all female participants had access to HIV education and services or harm reductionprograms. Although high rates of non-injection drug use and sexual risk behaviors were found amongboth FWID and non-injecting female partners of MWID, we found that FWID were more likely to be HIVseropositive (aRR = 3.03; 95% CI = 1.78, 5.18) and HCV seropositive than non-IDU females (aRR = 6.05; 95%CI = 4.05, 9.04), were more likely to have used alcohol or drugs before sex (aRR = 1.67; 95% CI = 1.40, 2.00),and were more likely to have used sedatives, barbiturates, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, or painkillers thatwere not prescribed by a physician (aRR = 17.45; 95% CI = 8.01, 38.01).
Conclusion: Given the spread of the HIV epidemic to heterosexual partners in Kazakhstan, more attentionis needed in research, prevention, and policies regarding female partners of male injection drug users.