Assessing risk behaviors and prevalence of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections among female crack cocaine users inSalvador—Bahia, Brazil

Ceuci L X Nunes, Tarcisio Andrade, Bernardo Galvão-Castro, Francisco I Bastos, Arthur Reingold
Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases 2007, 11 (6): 561-6
Crack cocaine use is associated with risky sexual behaviors and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. We investigated sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics and infection rates in female crack cocaine users from impoverished communities of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. A sample of 125 female crack cocaine users was recruited. Overall, the interviewees had low educational level and high rate of unemployment (close to 90%). One-third (37%) reported having traded sex for money or drugs, and 58% reported that they had not used condoms during intercourse in the last 30 days. The prevalence of infections was low: HIV-1.6%; HCV-2.4%; HBV- 0.8%; HTLV I/II-4.0%; and syphilis-4.0%. The combination of dire poverty and high prevalence of risk behaviors turn such populations a preferential target of initiatives aiming to reduce drug-related harm and promote social development. Low infection rates should not be viewed with complacency, but as a window of opportunity to implement prevention initiatives and reduce social marginalization.

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