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Age at First Alcoholic Drink as Predictor of Current HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Among a Sample of Injection Drug Users (IDUs) and Non-IDUs who are Sexual Partners of IDUs, in St. Petersburg, Russia


This study investigates whether age at first alcoholic drink is associated with sexual risk behaviors among injection drug users (IDUs) and non-IDUs who are sexual partners of IDUs in St. Petersburg, Russia. A path analysis was used to test a model of age at first drink, age at sexual debut, age at first drug use, current substance use patterns and current sexual risk behaviors among 558 participants. Results revealed that age at first drink had an effect on multiple sex partners through age at sexual debut and injection drug use, but no effect on unprotected sex. Age at first drug use was not related to sexual risk behaviors. Investigation of age of drinking onset may provide useful information for programs to reduce sexual risk behaviors and injection drug use. Different paths leading to unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners call for different approaches to reduce sexual risk behaviors among this population.


Este estudio investiga si la edad a la primera bebida alcohólica está asociada a conductas sexuales de riesgo entre los usuarios de drogas inyectables (UDI) y no usuarios de drogas inyectables, que son parejas sexuales de los UDI en San Petersburgo, Rusia. Análisis de Vias o “Path Analysis” fue utilizada para probar un modelo de la edad a la primera bebida alcohólica, la edad de iniciación sexual, la edad del comienzo en el consumo de drogas, los patrones actuales del consumo de sustancias y actuales conductas sexuales de riesgo entre los 558 participantes. Los resultados demostraron que la edad a la primera bebida alcohólica tuvo un efecto en las parejas sexuales múltiples a través de la edad de iniciación sexual y el uso de drogas inyectables, pero no tuvo efecto sobre las relaciones sexuales sin protección. La edad de iniciación en el consumo de las drogas no estaba relacionada con parejas sexuales múltiples o con relaciones sexuales sin protección. La investigación sobre los factores que conducen a consumo temprano de alcohol pueden proporcionar información importante para los programas para reducir la iniciación de los comportamientos de riesgo sexual y el uso de drogas inyectables. Las diferentes situaciones que llevan a las relaciones sexuales sin protección y a parejas sexuales múltiples exigen maneras distintas de abordar el tema para reducir los comportamientos de riesgo sexuales.

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This study was supported by the following NIDA grants to the SATH-CAP team: U01DA017387 to Yale University and the Biomedical Center and U01DA017377 to RAND Corporation. We thank the other SATH-CAP sites for their support; RTI International, the University of Illinois–Chicago, and the University of California–Los Angeles. The study was also supported by Fogarty International Center and Yale University AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) (5D43 TW001028).

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Correspondence to Nadia Abdala.

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Abdala, N., Hansen, N.B., Toussova, O.V. et al. Age at First Alcoholic Drink as Predictor of Current HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Among a Sample of Injection Drug Users (IDUs) and Non-IDUs who are Sexual Partners of IDUs, in St. Petersburg, Russia. AIDS Behav 16, 1597–1604 (2012).

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  • Age at first alcoholic drink
  • HIV sexual risks
  • IDU
  • Russia
  • Age at first drug use
  • Sexual debut