UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Increasing awareness about HIV prevention among young people who initiated injection drug use in a Canadian setting, 1988–2014 Bahji, Anees; Wood, Evan; Ahamad, Keith; Dong, Huiru; DeBeck, Kora; Milloy, M-J; Kerr, Thomas; Hayashi, Kanna


Background—Globally, harm reduction interventions, including needle and syringe programs (NSPs), have been shown to reduce HIV risks among people who inject drugs (PWID). However, little is known about the impact of these efforts on the circumstances of first injection. Therefore, we sought to identify changes in the awareness about HIV prevention and syringe borrowing at the time of first injection drug use in Vancouver, Canada, during a period of NSP expansion. Methods—Data were drawn from prospective cohorts of PWID in Vancouver, who initiated injecting between 1988 and 2014. Multivariable regression was used to assess changes in the awareness about HIV and NSPs and syringe borrowing behaviour at first injection against calendar year of first injection. Results—Among 1,044 participants (36.9% female), at the time of first injection 73.9% reported having known syringe sharing was an HIV risk, 54.1% reported having heard of NSPs, and 7.8% reported having borrowed a syringe used by others. In multivariable analyses, calendar year offirst injection was independently and positively associated with awareness about HIV (adjusted prevalence ratio [APR]: 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.06, 1.11) and awareness about NSPs (APR: 1.18; 95% CI: 1.13, 1.24). While calendar year of first injection was significantly and negatively associated with syringe borrowing at first injection in bivariable analyses, the association did not remain significant in multivariable analyses (adjusted odds ratio: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.72, 1.14). Conclusions—We found that awareness about HIV and NSPs at first injection have increased over time amongst PWID in this setting. However, declining trends in syringe borrowing at first injection were not determined after adjustment for socio-demographic characteristics. This suggests that HIV prevention efforts may have contributed to increased awareness about HIV prevention, but further research is needed to identify sub-populations at heightened risk of HIV at first injection.

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