HIV-positive women in British Columbia are more likely than those in other provinces to also have hepatitis C or be injection drug users, according to a study released yesterday.

The report, put together by researchers with the Canadian Observational Cohort, found that HIV risk factors for women vary significantly among provinces.

More than 44 per cent of HIV-positive B.C. women were likely to report hepatitis C co-infection, compared to 14 per cent in Ontario and 20 per cent in Quebec. They were also more likely to have a history of injection drug use — at 41 per cent — compared to 10.8 per cent in Ontario and 14 per cent in Quebec.

“Defining the differences in the characteristics of HIV-positive women among provinces is the first step in developing targeted treatment, prevention, access and management programs,” said Dr. Mona Loutfy, co-principal investigator.

Robert Hogg, researcher at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, added that the data is key to helping understand how and why Canadian women are being infected with HIV.