Perceived Susceptibility of HIV/HCV Infection Risk among Persons Who Inject Drugs

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPoster presentation


Injecting drug use is one of the main HIV transmission routes in Latvia. Similar HIV/HCV transmission routes cause co-infection among persons who inject drugs (PWID). However, perceived risks of HIV/HCV may differ between PWID with different health status. A person's subjective perception of the risk of acquiring HIV/HCV may determine their patterns of drug injection and co-infection risk. The study aims to explore the perspectives of PWID on the perceived susceptibility to acquiring HIV/HCV by their infection status

Materials and Methods
In January 2022, qualitative semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with PWID. 2 focus groups, 1 interview and 6 telephone interviews were conducted. Purposive sampling was used to select participants according to HIV/HCV status: HIV/HCV co-infection (n=7); HCV mono-infection (n=5); HIV/HCV negative (n=5). The interviews were transcribed verbatim and manually coded using descriptive coding technique. Research carried out within the 12th phase of the Drug User Cohort Study, by the Centre for Disease Prevention and the Control of Latvia and NGO ‘DIA + LogS’.

Perceived susceptibility of HIV/HCV infection risk is one of the identified topics related to risk behaviour and its contexts. Infected PWID reported poor knowledge and understanding of HIV/HCV transmission modes. PWID with co-coinfection tended to overestimate their level of knowledge. Most PWID rate their risks of HIV/HCV transmission as minimal. Although they are aware of the risks, they may not attribute it to themselves and may underestimate their personal risk. Infected persons may become indifferent to their health after being diagnosed with HIV/HCV.

PWID rate their risks of HIV/HCV transmission as minimal, while reporting poor knowledge of the transmission risks. The study results provide evidence on the discrepancies of HIV/HCV perceived susceptibility among PWID. Better harm reduction service provision and communication with PWID can be provided, considering their perceived susceptibility.
Period29 Mar 2023
Event titleRSU Research week 2023: Society. Health. Welfare
Event typeConference
Conference number9
OrganiserRīga Stradiņš University
LocationRiga, LatviaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational