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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: Discovering a New Generation of Drug Users in St. Petersburg, Russia

A new study co-authored by Dr. Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology with New York University College of Global Public Health, was published in the AIDS and Behavior titled “A New Generation of Drug Users in St. Petersburg, Russia? HIV, HCV, and Overdose Risks in a Mixed-Methods Pilot Study of Young Hard Drug Users.”

Russia has a widespread injection drug use epidemic with high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people who inject drugs (PWID). In this pilot researchers sought to explore what substances are used by young drug users, their drug use patterns and trajectories, drug use and sexual network characteristics, risk injection and sexual practices, overdose risks, HIV and HCV prevalence, and other issues related to drug use. A mixed methods study of young (age 18-26) hard drug users was conducted in St. Petersburg. Thirty-nine structured and 10 semi-structured interviews were conducted. No HIV cases and two HCV cases were detected among the PWID subsample (n = 29). Amphetamine and other stimulants were common (70 percent), opioid use was rare and episodic. Consistent condom use was 10 percent. No PWID reported syringe-sharing, 51 percent reported other drug paraphernalia sharing. Most (89 percent) never or rarely communicated with older (30 +) opiate users. A new cohort of drug users in St. Petersburg may have emerged, which is much safer in its injection practices compared to previous cohorts. However, risky sexual practices among this new cohort may expose them to the possibility of sexual transmission of HIV and widespread drug paraphernalia sharing to the HCV epidemic.

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