Latent classes of sexual risk behavior and engagement in outreach, intervention and prevention services among women who inject drugs across 20 U.S. cities

Background. Monitoring the effects of HIV prevention efforts among persons who inject drugs (PWID) is key to informing prevention programs and policy. Methods. Data for this study came from the 2012 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance interviews with PWID across 20 U.S. cities. The present analyses include those who identified as female, ever had sex with a man, and were at risk for HIV infection (did not report a previous positive HIV test result) (n = 2,624). We conducted latent class analysis (LCA) to identify sexual risk classes, and modeled associations with engagement in HIV prevention services and HIV test results. Results. We identified six classes of sexual risk behavior: 1) low risk, 2) monogamous, 3) casual partner, 4) multiple partner, 5) exchange sex, and 6) exchange plus main partner. The class distribution was similar across the mainland regions. Bisexual orientation and homelessness were significant predictors of higher risk class. HIV prevalence and participation in behavioral interventions did not vary significantly by risk class, while obtaining and using free condoms did. Independent of risk class, women in cities in the South were significantly less likely to use free condoms, and HIV prevalence was higher among non-Hispanic black women and women aged 40-49. Conclusions. Bisexual orientation and homelessness were predictors of higher risk. Condom distribution programs reached fewer women in cities in the South. Race and age disparities in HIV-positive rates persisted after adjusting for sexual risk class.

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