August 18, 2005
A recent study by U.S. and Russian researchers finds that while "existing surveillance data attributes [STD] infections to injected drug use over and above any other risk category" in Russia, clinical and epidemiological data suggest that "HIV infection may be increasing fastest among groups that are acquiring HIV through sexual transmission."
Sevgi O. Aral of the US CDC, together with colleagues in the United States and Russia, used qualitative research methods and an examination of existing research, surveillance, and epidemiology data to assess the relationships between sex work, drug use, and STDs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Their methodology included in-depth qualitative interviews with key informants, naturalistic observations of commercial sex work and drug use sites, geo-mapping, and a critical review of the available data.
"Targeted screening studies of [STD] and HIV morbidity among populations that are not included in the surveillance algorithm are needed, such as commercial sex workers, street youth, and the homeless," the researchers wrote. "Sexual history taking to better characterize the proportion of cases that result from sex between male partners would also be helpful."
The full report, "Commercial Sex Work, Drug Use, and Sexually Transmitted Infections in St. Petersburg, Russia," was published in Social Science and Medicine (2005;60(10):2181-2190).