Due to the high cost of treatment, preventative measures to limit Hepatitis C (HCV) transmission among people who inject drugs (PWID) are encouraged by many public health officials. A key one of these is serosorting, where PWID select risk partners based on concordant HCV status. Research on the general U.S. population by Smith et al. (2013) found that knowledge of one’s own HCV status facilitated serosorting behaviors among PWID, such that respondents with knowledge of their own status were more likely to ask potential partners about their status prior to sharing risk. Our objective was to see if this held true in rural Puerto Rico. We replicate this study using a sample of PWID in rural Puerto Rico to draw comparisons. We used respondent driven sampling to survey 315 participants, and have a final analytic sample of 154. The survey was heavily modeled after the National HIV Behavioral Survey, which was the dataset used by the previous researchers. We found that among PWID in rural Puerto Rico, unlike in the general population, knowledge of one’s own HCV status had no significant effect on the selection of one’s most recent injection partner, based on his/her HCV status. We conclude that PWID in rural Puerto Rico differ from the general U.S. population when it comes to serosorting behaviors, and that these differences should be taken into account in future outreaches and intervention strategies.
Keywords: Hepatitis C; HCV; PWID; Puerto Rico; Serosorting; Injection drug use; Rural drug use; Hepatitis