BACKGROUND: A number of studies suggest females may be more likely to engage in injection and sex risk behavior than males. Most data on gender differences come from industrialized countries, so data are needed in developing countries to determine how well gender differences generalize to these understudied regions. METHODS: Between 1999 and 2003, 2512 male and 672 female current injection drug users (IDUs) were surveyed in ten sites in developing countries around the world (Nairobi, Beijing, Hanoi, Kharkiv, Minsk, St. Petersburg, Bogota, Gran Rosario, Rio, and Santos). The survey included a variety of questions about demographics, injecting practices and sexual behavior. RESULTS: Females were more likely to engage in risk behaviors in the context of a sexual relationship with a primary partner while males were more likely to engage in risk behaviors in the context of close friendships and casual sexual relationships. After controlling for injection frequency, and years injecting, these gender differences were fairly consistent across sites. CONCLUSION: Gender differences in risk depend on the relational contexts in which risk behaviors occur. The fact that female and male risk behavior often occurs in different relational contexts suggests that different kinds of prevention interventions which are sensitive to these contexts may be necessary.
HIV risk behaviors among female IDUs in developing and transitional countries