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BackgroundIn sub-Saharan Africa, there is paucity of research on substance use patterns among young people living with HIV (YLWH). To address the gap, we sought to: i) determine the prevalence of substance use, specifically alcohol and illicit drug use, among YLWH compared to their HIV-uninfected peers; ii) investigate the independent association between young people's HIV infection status and substance use; iii) investigate the risk indicators for substance use among these young people.MethodsBetween November 2018 and September 2019, a cross-sectional study was conducted at the Kenyan coast recruiting 819 young people aged 18-24 years (407 HIV-positive). Alcohol and drug use disorders identification tests (AUDIT and DUDIT) were administered via audio computer-assisted self-interview alongside other measures. Logistic regression was used to determine substance use risk indicators.ResultsThe point prevalence of current substance use was significantly lower among YLWH than HIV-uninfected youths: current alcohol use, 13% vs. 24%, p ConclusionsAt the Kenyan coast, substance use is a reality among young people. The frequency of use generally appears to be low among YLWH compared to the HIV-uninfected peers. Substance use prevention initiatives targeting young people, regardless of HIV infection status, are warranted in this setting to avert their potential risk for developing substance use disorders, including dependence. The multifaceted intrapersonal and interpersonal factors that place young people at risk of substance use need to be addressed as part of the substance use awareness and prevention initiatives.

Original publication





Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy

Publication Date





KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Centre for Geographic Medicine Research (Coast), Box 230, Kilifi, Kenya.