Substance Use, Depression and Sociodemographic Determinants of HIV Sexual Risk Behavior in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Patients

Susan Tross, Daniel J. Feaster, Gabriel Thorens, Rui Duan, Zoilyn Gomez, Martina Pavlicova, Mei Chen Hu, Tiffany Kyle, Sarah Erickson, Anya Spector, Louise Haynes, Lisa R. Metsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objectives: The NIDA Clinical Trials Network trial of rapid HIV testing/counseling in 1281 patients was a unique opportunity to examine relationships among substance use, depressive symptoms, and sex risk behavior. Methods: Past 6-month substance use; substance use severity (Drug Abuse Screening Test-10); depressive symptoms (Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology); and three types of sex risk behavior (unprotected sex occasions [USOs] with primary partners; USOs with nonprimary partners; and USOs while high/drunk) were assessed. Zero-inflated negative binomial analyses provided: probability and rate of sex risk behavior (in risk behavior subsample). Results: Levels of sexual risk behavior were high, while variable across the three types of sex risk behaviors. Among the patients, 50.4% had engaged in USOs with primary partners, 42% in sex while drunk or high, and 23.8% in USOs with nonprimary partners. Similar factors were significantly associated with all three types of sex risk behaviors. For all types, problem drinking, cocaine use, and substance use severity had an exacerbating effect. Older age was associated with lower risk behavior; other relationship categories (eg, married, separated/divorced, cohabitating) were associated with greater risk behavior than was single status. Depressive symptoms were associated with decreased likelihood of USOs with a primary partner. Conclusions: Sexual risk behavior is common among individuals in outpatient substance abuse treatment. Results highlight problem drinking (eg, up to three-fold) and cocaine (eg, up to twice) in increasing sex risk behavior. They demonstrate the utility of distinguishing between partner types and presence/absence of alcohol/drugs during sex. Findings argue for the need to integrate sex risk reduction into drug treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-463
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • sexual risk factor
  • substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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