To describe HIV-related risk behaviours, HIV testing and HIV status among people who inject drugs (PWIDs) in the 2000 in European countries with high-prevalence HIV epidemics among PWID.
Data from 12 cross-sectional studies among PWID from seven countries were used. Meta-analysis was used to synthesize the data and meta-regression to explain heterogeneity [in addition to deriving adjusted odds ratios (AORmeta)].
Data on 1791 PWID from western (the West) and 3537 from central and eastern (the East) European countries were available. The mean age of participating PWIDs was 30.6 years (SD 7.9), 75% were men, and 36% [95% confidence interval 34–37%) were HIV-infected (30% West, 38% East); 22% had not previously been tested for HIV. The prevalence of reported high-risk behaviour was significantly higher among PWID from the East. Comparison of HIV-infected and uninfected PWID within countries yielded similar results across all countries: HIV-infected PWID were less likely to be sexually active [AORmeta 0.69 (0.58–0.81)], reported less unprotected sex [AORmeta 0.59 (0.40–0.83)], but reported more syringe sharing [AORmeta 1.70 (1.30–2.00)] and more frequent injecting [AORmeta 1.40 (1.20–1.70)] than their HIV-uninfected counterparts.
Despite the absolute differences in reported risk behaviours among PWID in western and eastern Europe, the associations of risk behaviours with HIV status were similar across the sites and regions. There is a substantial potential for further HIV transmission and acquisition based on the continuous risk behaviours reported. HIV prevention and harm reduction interventions targeting PWID should be evaluated.