The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA

4199.0: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #46576

HIV/AIDS knowledge and associated risk behaviors among drug users in Pakistan

Mohammad Abrar Ahmed, MBBS1, Tariq Zafar2, Salman Ul Hassan2, Joseph Bareta, MS3, Heena Brahmbhatt, MPH4, and S.A. Strathdee, PhD5. (1) Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public health, 627 N. Washington Street, 2nd floor, Baltimore, MD 21205, (410)955-4397,, (2) Nai Zindagi, 37-38, Top Floor, Beverly Center, Blue Area, Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan, (3) Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Public Health, 627 N. Washington Street, 2nd FL, Baltimore, MD 21205, (4) Population and Family Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, 627 N. Washington Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, (5) School Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe Street, E6010, Baltimore, MD 21205

Background: We assessed awareness of HIV/AIDS and risk behaviors among drug users (DUs) in 3 Pakistani cities.

Methods: DUs registering for NGO services at one of 3 Pakistani cities in 2001 underwent an interviewer-administered survey on sociodemographics, drug use, sexual behaviors and HIV/AIDS awareness. Chi-square tests were used to compare the 3 cities.

Results: Of 608 DUs, 99.8% were male, median age was 32 years and 44% were married. Most (79.8%) were of Pakistani origin, 15.3% were Afghan and 4.9% other. The majority reported using heroin (96.4%), mostly by "chasing the dragon" (inhaling drug fumes). A total of 15% had ever injected drugs; 61% were from Quetta, 12% from Peshawar and 27% from Rawalpindi (p=0.004). Needle sharing was significantly higher in Quetta (75%) compared to Rawalpindi (45.5%) and Peshawar (22.2%) (p=0.02). Only 10% of sexually active persons had ever used condoms; 42% had visited a commercial sex worker. Only 41% had heard about HIV/AIDS; of these, only 30% knew at least one transmission route; 2% had undergone HIV testing. HIV/AIDS awareness was higher in injection vs. non-injection DUs (p=0.02); however, the former were more likely to have ever donated blood (44% vs. 28%; p=0.004).

Conclusion: HIV/AIDS knowledge is very limited among Pakistani DUs. Injection and sex-related risk behaviors are prevalent. Interventions to discourage transitions to injection, increase voluntary HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, and safeguard the blood supply are urgently needed.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Drug Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

International HIV Issues: Asia and South Asia

The 130th Annual Meeting of APHA