Risk for heterosexual HIV transmission among non-injecting female partners of injection drug users in Estonia

A. Uusküla, J. M. McMahon, M. Kals, A. Talu, K. Abel-Ollo, K. Rüütel, D. C. Des Jarlais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The HIV epidemic in Estonia, as with other eastern European countries, is currently concentrated among injection drug users (IDUs). Non-IDUs who have IDU sex partners could serve as a potential bridge in an expanding epidemic. We applied HIV transmission modelling to data collected from non-IDU/IDU heterosexual couples in Kohtla-Järve, Estonia to estimate HIV risk from IDUs to their sex partners based on self-reported sexual behaviors shared by the couple. IDUs and their current main non-injecting sex partners were recruited for an interviewer-administered survey and HIV testing. Bernoulli modelling techniques were applied to estimate the risk of HIV transmission (incidence) among HIV negative non-injecting female partners of male IDUs. The estimated HIV incidence in this population of non-injecting women with only main sexual partners in the last 6 months ranged from 3.24 to 4.94 HIV seroconversions per 100 person years depending on the value used in the models for the per act transmission rate during acute stage infection. Non-IDUs who have IDU sex partners are at high risk for HIV and could serve as a potential bridge to a more generalized epidemic. Whether this might lead to an expansion of the HIV epidemic beyond core groups in Estonia or other Eastern European countries warrants closer study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-888
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013



  • Estonia
  • HIV incidence
  • Injecting drug users
  • Main sexual partners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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