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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Sep 1;84(1):69-76. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

Intra-couple communication dynamics of HIV risk behavior among injecting drug users and their sexual partners in Northern Vietnam.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


This paper elucidates the social context of HIV risk behavior and intra-couple risk communication among injecting drug users (IDUs) and their main sex partner. Data on shared injection equipment, unprotected sex with multiple partners, unprotected sex with a main partner and couples' dynamics and risk communication were gathered through separate in-depth interviews with 11 active male IDUs and 11 of their primary female sex partners in Northern Vietnam. The majority of IDUs' sex partners does not inject drugs and is monogamous. In contrast, most IDUs reported a wide range of risky practices including needle sharing and unprotected sex with multiple, often concurrent, sex partners. Men rarely used condoms with primary partners. Many IDUs worried about their HIV-status, but none disclosed their injecting or sexual practices to their sex partners, leaving their partners unaware of their HIV risk. Among women who worried about HIV/AIDS, the vast majority was unable to influence their partner's needle sharing or extramarital affairs and most would not initiate condom use because they feared their partner's reaction. Couple-based interventions to facilitate risk communication combined with programs to promote condom use among male IDUs, may help to reduce HIV transmission from IDUs to their primary partners.

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