In the past two years, we observed a relatively large number of drug users coming from 8 countries of North Africa and the Middle East attending our drug treatment center in central Rome. We conducted a study to evaluate HIV prevalence and correlates of infection among this specific population group. Among the 131 participants, 61 (46.6% reported injecting drug use; none of the 70 non-injectors was HIV-positive. Among injecting drug users, 9 (14.8% were HIV-positive; 56 of them (91.8% reported having started to inject drugs in Italy. Analysis of risk factors for HIV infection was restricted to injecting drug users. In univariate analysis, HIV-positivity was significantly associated with older age, a longer history of drug injection, a longer duration of residence in Italy, female sex, use of injected cocaine, needle-sharing reported in the past five years, and known HIV-positive sexual partner in the past year. Having been in prison was marginally associated with HlV-seropos-itivity. The results of a multivariate model showed that only age and years of drug injection remained independently associated to HIV seropositivity. The odds ratio of HIV increased by 1.3 for each year of age and by 1.5 for each year of injection. Health education and risk reduction programs addressed to immigrants from countries with current low rates of injecting drug use and AIDS are urgently needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)