Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Depression & Sexual Risk Behaviours among People Who Inject Drugs: A Gender-Based Analysis

Although many people who inject drugs (PID) contend with comorbidities, including high rates of mental illness, limited attention has been given to the differences in comorbidities among men and women or the potential links between psychiatric disorders and HIV risk behaviours. We sought to longitudinally examine associations between depression and HIV-related sexual risk behaviours among PID, stratified by gender.

Data were derived from a prospective cohort of PID in Vancouver, Canada between December 2005 and November 2009. Using generalised estimating equations, we examined the relationship between depressive symptoms and two types of sexual HIV risk behaviours: engaging in unprotected sex; and having multiple sexual partners. All analyses were stratified by self-reported gender. 

Overall, 1017 PID participated in this study, including 331 (32.5%) women. At baseline, women reported significantly higher depressive symptoms than men (P < 0.001). In multivariate generalised estimating equations analyses, after adjustment for potential social, demographic and behavioural confounders, more severe depressive symptomology remained independently associated with engaging in unprotected sex and having multiple sexual partners among women, but was only marginally associated with having multiple sexual partners among men. 

These findings call for improved integration of psychiatric screening and treatment services within existing public health initiatives designed for PID, particularly for women. Efforts are also needed to address sexual risk-taking among female PID contending with clinically significant depression.

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By:  Tyler Pettes A, Thomas Kerr A B, Pauline Voon A, Paul Nguyen A, Evan Wood A B andKanna Hayashi A B C 
A British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, St. Paul’s Hospital, 608–1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada. 
 Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, St. Paul’s Hospital, 608–1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6, Canada. 
 Corresponding author. Email: 
 2015 May 18. doi: 10.1071/SH14200.

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