Risk correlates of prevalent HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus infections among noninjecting heroin users

V. Anna Gyarmathy, Alan Neaigus, Maureen Miller, Samuel R. Friedman, Don C. Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To examine lifetime correlates of HIV and hepatitis B and C (HBV and HCV) infections among noninjecting heroin users (NIUs). Methods: Between March 1996 and March 2001, 483 eligible NIUs were tested for HIV, HBV, and HCV antibodies and administered structured interviews. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were stratified by injecting history. Results: Among never-injectors (69.8%), significant (p < .05) correlates were unprotected sex with men who have sex with men (HIV and HBV), unprotected sex with NIUs (HIV), self-reported syphilis infection (HBV), longer duration of heroin use (HBV and HCV), shorter duration of cocaine use (HIV), blood transfusion before 1986 (HIV), and having been tattooed (HCV). Among former injectors (30.2%), significant correlates were receptive syringe sharing (HIV and HBV), frequent lifetime injection (HCV), longer duration of sexual activity (HBV), and having been tattooed (HCV). Conclusion: Never-injectors infected with HIV and HBV appear to have become infected mainly through sexual transmission, whereas former injectors appear to have become infected with HIV and HCV mainly though injecting risk and with HBV through both injecting and sexual risk. Interventions targeted at NIUs should prevent unsafe sex as well as the initiation or resumption of injecting. In addition, unhygienic tattooing, which may lead to HCV exposure, should be a focus of prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-456
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002



  • Hepatitis B infection
  • Hepatitis C infection
  • Heroin
  • Human immunodeficiency virus
  • Noninjecting heroin use
  • Tattoos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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