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Behavioral Risks of Transmitting HIV Among Users of Synthetic Cathinones (“Bath Salts”)

(Results of Field Research)

Article published in the November 2020 edition of the journal “Issues in Narcology.”

Authors: R.V. Skonchilov, E.R. Aserova, A.T. Lakhov, Y.V. Godunova, S.V. Koren 

“30 interviews and two focus groups were conducted with users of psychoactive stimulants — synthetic cathinones — with the goal of identifying and clarifying relevant risk factors for transmission of HIV in a group of users of synthetic cathinones (‘bath salts’) in the current drug use conditions in St. Petersburg. … 

The research findings demonstrate changes in the behavior of drug users with varying levels of experience injecting psychoactive substances. The transition to synthetic cathinones (‘bath salts’) by the ‘older’ generation of opioid users, as well as the emergence of more risky behaviors in this target group when using ‘salts,’ is of great epidemiological importance. At the same time, there is a tendency towards the transition to injecting synthetic stimulants as the drug addiction experience of the ‘new generation’ of drug users grows. The identified behavioral features of synthetic cathinones users indicate that they face risks of HIV infection through both injecting and sexual behaviors. Information collected through this research may be useful to specialists working in the field of HIV prevention among users of psychoactive substances.” 

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