AIDS (London, England)

Sex work and HIV incidence among people who inject drugs.

PMID 26558725


Although the global burden of HIV infection among sex workers (SW) has been well recognized, HIV-related risks among sex workers who inject drugs (SW-IDU) have received less attention. We investigated the relationship between sex work and HIV incidence among people who inject drugs (IDU) in a Canadian setting. Prospective cohort study. Using Kaplan-Meier methods and the extended Cox regression, we compared HIV incidence among SW-IDU and non-SW-IDU in Vancouver, Canada, after adjusting for potential confounders. Between 1996 and 2012, 1647 participants were included in the study, including 512 (31.1%) IDU engaged in sex work. At 5 years the HIV cumulative incidence was higher among SW-IDU in comparison to other IDU (12 vs. 7%, P = 0.001). In unadjusted Cox regression analyses, HIV incidence among SW-IDU was also elevated [relative hazard: 1.69; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13-2.53]. However, in a multivariable analysis, sex work did not remain associated with HIV infection (adjusted relative hazard: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.45-1.20), with cocaine injection appearing to account for the elevated risk for HIV infection among SW-IDU. These data suggest that local SW-IDU have elevated rates of HIV infection. However, our exploration of risk factors among SW-IDU demonstrated that drug use patterns and environmental factors, rather than sexual risks, may explain the elevated HIV incidence among SW-IDU locally. Our findings highlight the need for social and structural interventions, including increased access to harm reduction programs and addiction treatment.