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: Even when IDUs use their own syringes, the common use of drug preparation materials can expose them to blood-borne pathogens. Notwithstanding the accumulated evidence about the riskiness of drug preparation practices (DPPs), the factors that lead IDUs to engage in DPPs have remained understudied. We conducted 80 semi-structured interviews to elicit salient beliefs about engaging in low-risk DPPs. Data were content analyzed for consequences, normative influences, and barriers. For the most part respondents described positive consequences of engaging in low-risk DPPs. The majority of respondents mentioned IDU peers as a major source of pressure to engage in high-risk DPPs. Lack of access to clean materials and the need to carry materials on oneself were the most salient barriers elicited. The results suggest that preventive interventions need to address the preference for re-using filters, help develop skills to fend off pressures from peers, and increase the accessibility of materials in ways that do not require IDUs to carry additional items.AIDS and Behavior 10/2005; 9(3):363-75. · 3.49 Impact Factor