Objective: To verify the association between age and gender regarding HIV seropositivity in drug users who seek public health centers in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Methods: The authors designed a cross-sectional study with a convenience sampling of 695 men and women aged above 15, who reported recent drug use and risk behaviors to HIV exposure. We used a standard questionnaire (CRA, Brazilian version of the RAB, Risk Assessment Battery) to assess risk behaviors and we collected blood for HIV testing. Results: Most individuals were males (75,8%), with a mean age of 29.4 years, less than seven years of schooling (42,4%), and family income equal or superior to four minimum wages (46%). There was no significant association between gender and seropositivity. Multivariate analyses showed that individuals aged above 30 had a three-fold increased odds of being seropositive over subjects aged 20 or less. Intravenous drug users who had been using drugs since 1980 had five-fold odds of seropositivity and those who had been using them in the month prior to the interview had four-fold odds. Discussion: Subjects aged more than 30 showed higher odds of seropositivity than the younger group. This is possibly due to a higher use of intravenous cocaine and to having more risk behaviors along their lifetime. There was no difference in seropositivity between genders, what differs from current data of other studies, if we take into consideration that rates of populational seropositivity among women have increased, mostly among drug users, who are, therefore, at 'double risk'. The development of further studies is mandatory in order to assess gender and age as risk factors for seropositivity, whether to confirm or to deny these findings, and to plan specific strategies for high-risk groups.
Risk behavior; HIV seroprevalence; AIDS; Street drugs; Demographic data