AIDS and behavior 2017 10 19() doi 10.1007/s10461-017-1929-9
The number of HIV cases attributed to heterosexual contact and the proportion of women among HIV positive individuals has increased worldwide. Russia is a country with the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV infections in the region, and the infection spreads beyond traditional risk groups. While young women are affected disproportionately, knowledge of HIV risk behaviors in women in the general population remains limited. The objectives of this study were to identify patterns of behaviors that place women of childbearing age at high risk for HIV transmission and determine whether socio-demographic characteristics and alcohol use are predictive of the risk pattern. A total of 708 non-pregnant women, aged between 18 and 44 years, who were at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy were enrolled in two regions in Russia. Participants completed a structured interview focused on HIV risk behaviors, including risky sexual behavior and alcohol and drug use. Latent class analysis was utilized to examine associations between HIV risk and other demographic and alcohol use characteristics and to identify patterns of risk among women. Three classes were identified. 34.93% of participants were at high risk, combining their risk behaviors, e.g., having multiple sexual partners, with high partner’s risk associated with partner’s drug use (class I). Despite reporting self-perceived risk for HIV/STI, this class of participants was unlikely to utilize adequate protection (i.e., condom use). The second high risk class included 13.19% of participants who combined their risky sexual behaviors, i.e., multiple sexual partners and having STDs, with partner’s risk that included partner’s imprisonment and partner’s sex with other women (class II). Participants in this class were likely to utilize protection/condoms. Finally, 51.88% of participants were at lower risk, which was associated primarily with their partners’ risk, and these participants utilized protection (class III). The odds of being in class I compared with class III were 3.3 (95% CI [1.06, 10.38]) times higher for those women who had Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scores ≥ 8 than those who had lower scores, and were 3.9 (95% CI [1.69, 8.97]) times higher for those who used alcohol before sex than those who did not. In addition, women who drank more days per week were 1.36 times more likely to be in class II than in class III. The study informs prevention by identifying specific population groups and targets for interventions. Alcohol use is a significant predictor and an overarching factor of HIV risk in women. Since at-risk drinking is common among young Russian women, alcohol risk reduction should be an essential component of HIV prevention efforts.