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Scand J Public Health. 2009 Jun;37(4):357-63. doi: 10.1177/1403494809105290. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

High prevalence of unprotected sex among Finnish HIV-positive and HIV-negative injecting drug users.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



To study the prevalence of sexual risk behaviour and to identify factors associated with inconsistent condom use of Finnish injecting drug users (IDUs), and thus to examine the potential of sexual transmission of HIV within and from this population.


HIV-positive (n = 89) and HIV-negative (n = 207) IDUs from the Helsinki metropolitan area were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. Determinants of inconsistent condom use in the past 6 months were analyzed with logistic regression.


Inconsistent condom use was reported by 63% (39) of HIV-positive and 80% (144) of HIV-negative sexually active IDUs. Unprotected sex was more common in steady relationships (OR 5.6, CI 2.4-13.4). Inconsistent condom use was also associated with recent inpatient addiction treatment especially in the HIV-positive group (OR 15.7, 95% CI 1.7-143.0). Inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment was reported by 72% of the participants. Inconsistent condom use was not associated with age, gender, drug use frequency or markers of marginalization (unstable living, unemployment).


Inconsistent condom use allows for the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among Finnish IDUs. Addiction treatment programmes should include interventions focused on sexual behaviour to all of their clients. Partners of IDUs should be actively offered HIV counselling and testing.

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