A longitudinal study of syringe acquisition by Puerto Rican injection drug users in New York and Puerto Rico: implications for syringe exchange and distribution programs.
ABSTRACT Increasing access to sterile syringes and new drug preparation materials is an effective means of reducing HIV transmission among injection drug users (IDUs), and a fundamental component of harm reduction ideology. The purpose of this study is to examine changes during a three-year period in syringe acquisition by street-recruited Puerto Rican IDUs characterized by frequent drug injection and high HIV seroprevalence. At baseline (1998-1999) and 36-month follow-up, 103 IDUs recruited in East Harlem, New York (NY), and 135 from Bayamón, Puerto Rico (PR) were surveyed about syringe sources and HIV risk behaviors in the prior 30 days. A majority of participants in both sites were male (NY 78.6%, PR 84.4%), were born in Puerto Rico (NY 59.2%, PR 87.4%), and had not completed high school (NY 56.3%, PR 51.9%). Compared to PR IDUs at follow-up, NY IDUs injected less (3.4 vs. 7.0 times/day, p < .001), and re-used syringes less (3.1 vs. 8.0 times, p < .001). Between baseline and follow-up, in NY the proportion of syringes from syringe exchange programs (SEPs) increased from 54.2% to 72.9% (p = .001); syringes from pharmacies did not increase significantly (0.2% to 2.5%, p = .095). In PR, the proportions of syringes from major sources did not change significantly: private sellers (50.9% to 50.9%, p = .996); pharmacies (18.6% to 19.0%, p = .867); SEP (12.8% to 14.4%, p = .585). The study indicates that NY SEPs became more dominant, while NY pharmacies remained a minor source even though a law enacted in 2001 legalized syringe purchases without prescription. Private sellers in PR remained the dominant and most expensive source. The only source of free syringes, the SEP, permitted more syringes to be exchanged but the increase was not statistically significant. Implications for syringe exchange and distribution programs are discussed.
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ABSTRACT: Injection drug users (IDUs) contaminate preparation materials with blood-borne pathogens by using syringes as measuring and dispensing devices. In collaboration with IDUs, we developed a preventive intervention consisting of four new preparation practices aimed at avoiding the use of syringes in the preparation, and reducing the contamination of the materials. This report describes the results of a pilot trial introducing the new practices to ascertain their adoption potential and their potential efficacy in reducing contamination. Participants comprised 37 active IDUs among whom the new practices were promoted during 16 weeks. In addition to self-reported behaviors, the study collected cookers and plastic caps from shooting galleries and tested them for the presence of blood residues. Adoption rates were: (1) cleaning of skin area with hand sanitizer--65.6%; (2) directly pouring water with a dropper into the cooker--56.3%; (3) drawing drug solution with a preparation syringe and syringe filter--34.4%; and, (4) backload rinsing syringes--53.1%. Rates of blood residues detected in cookers and plastic caps were 41.7% prior to the trial, 28.6% at week 8, 24.6% at week 14, and 12.0% at week 18. We believe the results of the pilot trial are compelling and suggest that this intervention merits further formal testing.AIDS and Behavior 04/2009; 13(3):523-31. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Latinos in the United States are an ethnically diverse group disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. We describe HIV seroprevalence, HIV risk behaviors and utilization of health services among Mexican American injection drug users (IDUs) in California (n = 286) and compare them to White (n = 830) and African American (n = 314) IDUs. Study participants were recruited from syringe exchange programs (n = 24) in California. HIV seroprevalence among Mexican Americans (0.5%) was dramatically lower than Whites (5%) and African Americans (8%). Mexican Americans reported fewer sex-related risks than Whites and African Americans though injection-related risks remained high. Compared to Whites, Mexican Americans were more likely to participate in drug treatment during a 6 month period (AOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1, 2.0) but less likely to receive any health care (AOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.5, 0.8). Exploring cultural and structural factors among Mexican American IDUs may offer new insights into how to maintain low rates of HIV seroprevalence and reduce barriers to health care utilization.AIDS and Behavior 12/2009; 15(1):95-102. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Peer outreach models have been successful in addressing HIV risk behaviors of drug users. Patients in methadone maintenance treatment programs who were migrants from Puerto Rico and/or familiar with drug use there were trained to conduct HIV-related peer outreach. A group randomized design was implemented; patients in the Experimental (E) condition (n = 80) received training and conducted 12 weeks of outreach. Half of the patients completed the training and outreach. At follow-up, patients in the E condition who conducted outreach felt they were more helpful to their community, showed a trend for engaging in more vocational activities, and were more likely to talk with others about HIV, compared to those who did not conduct outreach and those in the Control condition (n = 78). Drug treatment patients who are migrants can be trained as peer outreach workers and short-term benefits were found. Longer term maintenance of benefits should be assessed.Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 04/2011; 14(2):251-8. · 1.16 Impact Factor