Respondent driven sampling was used to conduct 315 interviews with PWID in rural Puerto Rico during 2015. Negative binomial regression was used to test for associations between the number of self-reported injection partners and self-reported HCV and HIV statuses. Multinomial logistic regression was used to test for associations with the participant's self-reported HCV and HIV statuses.
The prevalence of hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV among persons who inject drugs (PWID) and the ability of these diseases to spread through injection networks are well documented in urban areas. However, less is known about injection behaviors in rural areas.
Self-reported HCV status is significantly associated with injection risk network size. Injection partner networks of self-reported HCV- respondents are half what is reported by those with a positive or unknown status. Self-reported HIV statuses are not associated with different numbers of injection partners.
Smaller injection networks among those who self-report a HCV- status suggests that those who believe their status to be negative may take protective action by reducing their injection network compared to those have a self-reported HCV+ or an unknown status. Although the cross-sectional design of the study makes it difficult verify, such behavior has implications for prevention programs attempting to prevent HCV transmission.
This study focuses on the association between the number of self-reported injection partners with the PWID's self-reported HCV and HIV status. Injection networks provide paths for infection and information to flow, and are important to consider when developing prevention and intervention strategies.