Association between Pregnancy and Active Injection Drug Use and Sex Work among Women Injection Drug Users in Saint Petersburg, Russia

P. Girchenko, D. C. Ompad, D. Bikmukhametov, L. Gensburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Widespread use of unsafe sexual practices among women injecting drugs both practicing and not practicing sex work leads to high levels of unplanned pregnancies in this population. The goal of this study was to investigate the association between pregnancy and active drug use and sex work. Data were collected using a convenience sample of 500 women in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 2013. All women had recent experience of drug use, of which 200 were pregnant at the time of the study. The study consisted of a structured interview followed by a rapid HIV test. Pregnancy was protective against both active drug use and sex work. For HIV-positive women, these associations were stronger than for HIV-negative women: drug use prevalence ratio (PR) was 0.59 vs 0.85; for sex work, the PRs were 0.36 vs 0.64. Higher levels of education were associated with a lower prevalence ratio for active drug use and sex work in all models. Having children was not associated with active drug use or sex work. Pregnancy might be an optimal time for conducting interventions aimed at cessation of drug use and sex work among women injecting drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)548-558
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 5 2015



  • Injection drug use
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex work in St. Petersburg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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