Vasquez, C., Lioznov, D., Nikolaenko, S., et al. AIDS Patient Care and STDs (2013), Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 304-310.
The authors assessed differences in risk factors between male and female HIV clients at two HIV referral facilities in St. Petersburg, Russia. Injecting drug use and sex were the main HIV risks in both males and females, but significant differences affected their uptake of HIV and related services. From March to May 2011, surveys were conducted with 152 clients (52 percent of these were women). Comorbidities included tuberculosis among men and sexually transmitted infections among women. Men were more likely than women to report HIV risk related to drug use (78 percent to 45 percent, respectively) and a history of injecting drug use (86 percent versus 49 percent). More women than men reported unprotected sex (61 percent to 18 percent). Men cited drug use as the primary reason for seeking HIV testing; women cited drug use, unprotected sex, and worries about their partner’s health. About half of males and females abused alcohol. Participants had high levels of HIV treatment knowledge, but delayed seeking care (47 percent and 35 percent); anecdotal reports identified stigma as a barrier. Women were more likely to access psychosocial services, yet men and women similarly accessed services for mental health care and injecting drug use, HIV, and group meetings. Gender-related differences in access and uptake of services should help inform HIV resource distribution in Russia.