The study is aimed at investigating the sexual and HIV risk behaviours of intravenous drug users (IDUs) in rural Southwest China and the relationships between the demographics of the population, needle sharing and condom use. 993 IDUs at a drug rehabilitation centre in Dali, Yunnan Province completed an anonymous structured questionnaire between November and December 2006. IDUs were involved in multiple HIV risk behaviours. 37.5% admitted to sharing needles in the past and very few sterilised their needles using the correct technique. A third had engaged in multiple partnerships and 17.9% had a sexual partner who was also an IDU. Only 12.6% always used condoms during vaginal sex- this figure was even lower for oral (7.5 - 7.9%) and anal sex (14.3 - 16.1%). Males were less likely to use condoms compared to females (p < 0.001). 60.8% of the population had never had a HIV test. In the regression model, occupational status, marital status and daily dose of heroin were significant independent predictors of condom non-use. Sex, ethnicity, months and frequency of injecting were significant independent predictors of sharing needles in the past. A worrying number of IDUs in rural China are engaged in HIV risk behaviours despite recent government prevention programmes. Further educational interventions are required to target these behaviours.
Key words: HIV/AIDS, China, risk behaviours, intravenous drug use (IDU), rural.
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