Prevalence of HIV and other infections and injection behaviours among people who inject drugs in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Background: Ethiopia is one of the sub-Saharan African countries most affected by HIV/AIDS. However, the country lacks data describing the extent of the epidemic among people who inject drugs (PWID). Thus, a bio-behavioural study was conducted in 2015 to generate strategic information on the magnitude of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), syphilis and related risk behaviours among PWID in Addis Ababa.
Methods: A cross-sectional study using respondent-driven sampling was conducted among people reported to have injected illicit drugs within 6 months before the study. Males and females aged 15 years or above and who were resident in Addis Ababa were included in the study between 26 March and 22 May 2015. Data was analysed using respondent-driven (RDS) Analyst software.
Results: A total of 237 participants, including 6 seeds, enrolled in the study; most of the PWID were males (96%) with a mean age of 26 years. Most (79%) of the PWID reported injecting heroin but also reported using non-injecting drugs, including marijuana or ganja (47%) and/or khat (31%). Forty per cent of PWID reported ever sharing needles and 56% reported sharing other injecting equipment. However, only 14% reported injecting daily, and 49% reported injecting only 1 to 3 times a month. HIV prevalence was 6%, HBV was 5.1%, HCV was 2.9% and syphilis 5.1% among PWID. Among HIV-positive PWID, 60% reported sharing a needle the last time they injected.
Conclusion: Even though the prevalence of HIV among drug users is not much higher than in the general population in Addis Ababa, the needle sharing prevalence was high. Thus, this baseline study shows the need to establish harm reduction programmes and prevention strategies for the PWID in Addis Ababa.
Keywords: HCV/HBV/syphilis, HIV/AIDS, respondent-driven sampling, risk behaviour, PWID