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Injection and sexual risk among people who use or inject drugs in Kampala, Uganda: An exploratory qualitative study. PLoS One 2020;15(4):e0231969



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Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85083737104 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   4 Citations


BACKGROUND: Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have seen rapid increases in injection drug use since 2008. In Uganda, the Global Sate of Harm report and studies conducted by Makerere University Crane Surveys have estimated HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID) at approximately 17%. The objective of the research was to document injection and other drug-related risks among people who use drugs in Uganda to develop comprehensive HIV/HCV prevention interventions.

METHODS: Between August and September 2018, we conducted qualitative interviews among male and female people who use drugs. Interview topics included the availability and accessibility of clean syringes, injection risks, overdose, sexual-risk behaviors, and the availability and accessibility of harm reduction and drug treatment services.

RESULTS: Participants reported several injection-related risks including sharing and reusing syringes, pooling and mixing drugs in the same container, measuring drugs using syringes, getting prefilled injections from dealers, being injected by other people who inject drugs, and using contaminated water or blood to dilute drugs. Participants reported a scarcity of harm reduction services, although a few appear to have participated in the syringe exchange pilot conducted by the Uganda Harm Reduction Network (UHRN). Even fewer reported knowing organizations that helped people who use drugs abstain from or reduce their use. Medication assisted therapy (MAT) and naloxone to reverse overdoses are not currently available.

CONCLUSIONS: Comprehensive prevention and treatment services are needed in Uganda and should include expanded syringe exchange programs, social network HIV testing, HCV testing, provision of naloxone and MAT, and linkage to and retention in HIV care.

Author List

Dickson-Gomez J, Twaibu W, Christenson E, Dan K, Anguzu R, Homedi E, Mbona Tumwesigye N


Ronald Anguzu MD, PhD Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Julia Dickson-Gomez PhD Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Evaluation Studies as Topic
HIV Infections
Harm Reduction
Interviews as Topic
Needle Sharing
Sexual Behavior
Substance Abuse, Intravenous