African Journal of Psychiatry

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Substance abuse and HIV risk behaviours amongst primary health care service users in Cape Town

Catherine L Ward, Jennifer R Mertens, Alan J Flisher, Graham F Bresick, Stacy A Sterling, Greg B Distiller, Constance M Weisner


Objective: To document prevalence of, and association between, substance use and HIV risk behaviours among primary care patients.

Method: Cross-sectional survey. Four primary care clinics in Cape Town. We selected clinics using stratified sampling, and systematically selected 131 patients from attendance logs. We assessed substance use with the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test, and HIV risk with items addressing injection drug use, blood-sharing rituals, and sexual risk behaviours.

Results: Substances most used at hazardous levels were tobacco (28.2%) and alcohol (14.8%). Among possible HIV risk factors, highest prevalence was participation in blood-sharing rituals (25%), and having had an STI (19.8%). An association between substance use and sexual risk behaviours was only found among those aged 18-24.

Conclusion: In younger patients, presence of substance use or HIV risk behaviours increases the probability that the other is present.

Keywords: substance abuse, HIV risk behaviours, primary care

South African Psychiatry Review Vol. 8(4) 2005: 160-165
AJOL African Journals Online