[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The need for expansion of health services provided in drug treatment programs has been widely discussed since the beginning of the HIV epidemic among drug users. Service expansion has focused on various types of services including medical services (eg, primary care) and harm-reduction services (eg, provision of sterile syringes).
A staff survey was conducted in 8 methadone maintenance clinics in the New York/New Jersey area to assess attitudes toward the provision of harm reduction and other services in methadone clinics, and the relationship of these attitudes to other variables.
A total of 114 staff members in 8 methadone maintenance clinics completed the survey.
The majority of staff was supportive of adding services, over 90% supported medical services, and the majority supported harm-reduction services such as syringe access and disposal services. Higher education and HIV knowledge levels were significant correlates of favorable attitudes toward service provision.
Support for providing harm-reduction services in methadone maintenance clinics was found. Enhancing knowledge of staff regarding various types of health services, and engaging them in how best to institute new services, should be undertaken when new services are planned.
Journal of Addiction Medicine 12/2011; 5(4):289-92. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many barriers to the use of HIV medications have been identified. Research findings have also shown a gender disparity in HIV care behaviors. However, interaction effects of gender with the potential barriers to use of HIV medications among HIV-positive minority drug users remain under-studied. This study examined interaction effects of gender with potential moderating factors (i.e., individual and network characteristics) on the use of HIV medications. Analyses were based on 260 HIV-positive Puerto Rican heroin and cocaine users, recruited in New York (N=178) and Puerto Rico (N=82) in 1998-2003. HIV status was assessed using OraSure, and heroin or cocaine use was verified by urinalysis. All participants were tested and interviewed at baseline and six-month follow-up (183 males; 77 females). In predicting use of HIV medications at follow-up (HIVMEDF), use of HIV medications at baseline (HIVMED), individual characteristics (e.g., depression), network characteristics (e.g., having an intravenous drug user [IDU] sex partner), recruitment site, and interaction effects of these variables with gender, were examined in multiple logistic regression analysis. Use of HIV medications was low (29% at baseline; 40% at follow-up). HIVMED, recruitment site, gender, and depression had significant main effects on HIVMEDF. Depression also had a significant interaction effect with gender on HIVMEDF. Unlike men, women with depression were less likely than women without depression to use the medications. The findings indicate that gender-specific issues should be addressed by treatment programs for HIV-positive drug users, with particular efforts needed to enhance use of medications for depressed women.
AIDS Care 11/2011; 23(11):1467-71. · 1.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Participating in civic activities has been found to be related to positive health outcomes.
This study examines associations between injection drug use health variables (sharing paraphernalia, using shooting galleries) and political/civic engagement (identifying with any political party, attention paid to politics and being registered to vote).
Participants (N = 162) were recruited at 6 New York City (NYC) methadone programs as part of an HIV intervention (86% male).
In the bivariate analysis, being registered to vote and political party identification were related to lower paraphernalia sharing; higher levels of attention paid to politics were associated with lower shooting gallery use. In the multivariate analysis, political party identification was associated with lower paraphernalia sharing and higher levels of attention paid to politics was related to lower shooting gallery use.
Findings suggest that maintaining connections with mainstream civic activities can be related to reduced health risks, including HIV risk behaviors.
This study contributes to understanding the relationships between involvement in civic/political participation and health, an area in which few studies have been conducted.
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 08/2011; 37(6):520-4. · 1.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] 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
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The importance of identifying differences in HIV risk between Hispanic subgroups is the focus of this article. Data are drawn from two New York?based HIV-related studies: among Puerto Rican drug users and among new immigrants from Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Results indicated that intercultural individuals (i.e., those involved in both Puerto Rican and mainland cultures) were less risky in terms of injection- and sex-related risk behaviors and that geographic and other contextual factors, along with cultural norms, influence risk behaviors for immigrants. Both studies indicate the need to differentiate subgroup factors affecting HIV risk and prevention behaviors to develop appropriate and effective community-based interventions. The study's limitations are noted.
Substance Use & Misuse 01/2011; 46(2-3):254-63. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hispanic patients were recruited from methadone maintenance treatment programs in 2005-2008 to be trained as peer outreach workers, targeting migrant drug users from Puerto Rico. Goals of the outreach focused on reducing HIV-related risk behaviors. A total of 80 peers were recruited from 4 clinics in New York and New Jersey. Following training, they conducted outreach in their communities for 12 weeks. This paper describes the challenges encountered during the recruitment, training, and outreach phases of the project, from the field perspective. Recommendations for future efforts in training drug treatment patients as outreach workers are provided.
Substance Use & Misuse 04/2010; 45(12):1892-908. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: From 2005 to 2008, the Bienvenidos Project trained Puerto Rican patients of New York City and New Jersey Methadone Maintenance Treatment Programs to conduct peer-based community outreach to migrant Puerto Rican drug users to reduce migrants' HIV risk behaviors. Ethnographic research, including focus groups, individual interviews, and observations, was conducted with a subset of the patients trained as peers (n = 49; 67% male; mean age 40.3 years) to evaluate the self-perceived effects of the intervention. Results of the ethnographic component of this study are summarized. The role of ethnographic methods in implementing and evaluating this kind of intervention is also discussed.
Substance Use & Misuse 02/2010; 45(3):414-36. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined factors that mediate and moderate the relationship between gender and utilization of mental health and medical services in the past year among Puerto Rican drug users (308 females; 892 males) recruited in New York City. Experience of sexual or physical abuse, injection drug use, relationship variables (e.g., having a sexual partner who is an injection drug user), and serious or chronic mental/medical conditions were used as potential mediators and moderators. Both sexual and physical abuse mediated gender effects on use of mental health services. Having chronic medical problems mediated the relationship between gender and utilization of medical and mental health services. Significant interaction effects of gender by depression, physical abuse, and HIV sero-status on utilization of medical services were found. Health (particularly mental health) care was under-utilized by both women and men, despite high rates of depression and chronic medical conditions. The finding of under-use of medical services by HIV-positive drug users (particularly by HIV-positive women) indicates a need for further efforts to engage all HIV-positive persons in care. The findings also indicate an on-going need for mental and other health services for drug users who have been victims of abuse.
Drug and alcohol dependence 05/2009; 102(1-3):138-43. · 3.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biculturality refers to two independent processes of acculturation, one to the host society's culture and another to the culture of origin. This study examined the relationship between biculturality and HIV-related risk behaviors in a sample of injecting and noninjecting Puerto Rican drug users (N = 259), recruited in New York City in 2005-2006. Biculturality was measured by two scales: involvement in (i) American culture (AMBIC) and (ii) Puerto Rican culture Biculturality (PRBIC). The majority (78%) of the participants were males, with a mean age of 42 years. About half were born in Puerto Rico, and the average length of stay in the United States was 26 years. In multiple logistic-regression analysis, AMBIC was significantly related to lower injection risk after controlling for other factors including gender, age, and MMTP enrollment, while PRBIC was a significant predictor of higher sex risk. Involvement in the host culture and the culture of origin differed in their relationship to risk behaviors, indicating that incorporating assessments of biculturality may be useful in assessing and addressing migrants' behaviors, including HIV-risk behaviors. The study's limitations have been noted.
Substance Use & Misuse 02/2009; 44(4):578-92. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined gender-specific effects of social bonds, network characteristics, and other factors on drug treatment enrollment among Puerto Rican drug users.
Participants (425 women; 1,374 men) were recruited in New York and Puerto Rico in 1998-2003.
Gender differences were found: education (< high school/GED) and having a sex partner who is an injection drug user (IDU) were significantly related to current enrollment in drug treatment (EDT) for women; for men, having an IDU friend (negatively) had a main effect on EDT, and having an IDU friend also had a significant interaction effect with their own injection drug use on EDT. For both women and men, recruitment site (New York), having health insurance, and prior methadone treatment were significant predictors of EDT.
The findings may be useful in developing gender-differentiated drug counseling and treatment efforts that engage women's sex partners and men's friendship networks to build support for drug treatment.
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 02/2009; 35(2):73-9. · 1.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Puerto Rican drug users recruited in NY who previously used drugs in Puerto Rico (PR) have been found to have higher HIV injection and sex-related risk behaviors than those who had not used in PR. This study examined predictors of risk among migrant Puerto Rican drug users. (For the purpose of this paper, the term "migrant" was used to designate Puerto Rican drug users who had used drugs in Puerto Rico and were recruited in New York or New Jersey).
A total of 290 drug users who had previously used drugs in PR were recruited in NY and New Jersey and interviewed regarding drug use history and HIV risk behaviors.
Participants engaged in high risk behaviors, e.g., 39% shared injection paraphernalia and 62% reported unprotected sex. Multivariate analyses found that predictors of injection-related risk included being born in PR and purchasing drugs jointly with other drug users; predictors of sex-related risk included younger age and homelessness.
Addressing risk reduction among those drug users who were born in Puerto Rico and are younger or homeless was indicated, and efforts to reach those at highest risk through NEPs was recommended.
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health 01/2009; 12(2):179-86. · 1.16 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Reducing sex risk behaviors among high-risk injection drug users (IDUs) and crack smokers is a continuing challenge for HIV prevention. Based on a longitudinal study of sexually active Puerto Rican IDUs and crack smokers in New York (n = 573) and Puerto Rico (n = 264), baseline predictors of changes in sex risk (number of unprotected sex acts) at 6- and 36-month follow-up interviews were examined. In New York, predictors of higher sex risk were being younger, having primary partners, having more other sex partners, never exchanging sex, having lower self-efficacy for reducing sex risk behaviors and being HIV-negative, and these predictors were significant at both postbaseline periods. In Puerto Rico, short-term predictors included being male, having primary partners, never exchanging sex, lower sex risk norms and lower self-efficacy. However, only having primary partners was significant in longer-term behaviors. Results indicated the need for enhancing self-efficacy and for developing risk reduction strategies related to community differences.
AIDS Education and Prevention 09/2008; 20(4):325-37. · 1.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examines the influence of peer norms on sharing of injection paraphernalia (e.g., indirect sharing behaviors, including sharing of cookers, cotton, rinse water and back/front loading) among Puerto Rican injection drug users (IDUs) in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, and East Harlem, New York City. Data were collected from 873 Puerto Rican IDUs recruited in the two locations by outreach workers. Multiple logistic regression was conducted using sociodemographic and other control variables (e.g., education, frequency of injection, pooling money to buy drugs, use of needle exchange program, injection in galleries and syringe sharing behaviors) and two types of norms related to sharing of injection paraphernalia-encouraging risk norms (what others approve) and objecting to risk norms (what others disapprove). One type of norms, encouraging or approval norms, was associated with indirect sharing in New York but not in Puerto Rico. Pooling money to buy drugs, use of shooting galleries and syringe sharing was associated with indirect sharing in both locations. Prevention programs to reduce indirect sharing behaviors should take into consideration different types of risk norms in order to reduce indirect sharing risk behaviors.
AIDS Education and Prevention 07/2008; 20(3):249-57. · 1.59 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gender differences were examined in health status and HIV care among HIV-infected minority drug users. More women than men reported having HIV-related symptoms and other health conditions, such as asthma and allergies. Hepatitis B or C was more often reported by men. As compared to men, women delayed HIV care and fewer attended HIV support groups. Delayed entry into HIV treatment was also significantly related to being Hispanic and being diagnosed with HIV in the pre-HAART era. No significant gender difference was found in current use of HIV medications. Use of HIV medications was significantly related to being married, no history of childhood sexual abuse, enrollment in an HIV clinic and attending HIV support groups. The findings demonstrate the importance of family and social support for HIV-positive drug users and also suggest a need for special attention to those who have childhood sexual abuse experience.
AIDS Care 07/2008; 20(9):1146-51. · 1.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined mobility on the airbridge between New York (NY) and Puerto Rico (PR) for Puerto Rican drug users and its relationship to HIV risk. Over 1,200 Puerto Rican injection drug users (IDUs) and crack smokers were recruited by outreach workers in NY and PR; interview data included questions on mobility (lifetime residences and recent trips). Two-thirds of the NY sample had lived in PR; one-quarter of the PR sample had lived in NY; the most commonly sited reasons for moving were family-related. Fewer than 10% had visited the other location in the prior 3 years. Variables related to risk were number of moves, recent travel, and having used drugs in PR (all with p < 0.05). Implications included the need to enhance risk reduction efforts for IDUs in PR and address sexual risk among mobile drug users.
Journal of Urban Health 03/2007; 84(2):243-54. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More than half of all AIDS cases among Puerto Ricans have been attributed to injection drug use. Predictors of injection drug use cessation were examined among Puerto Rican injection drug users (IDUs) in New York and Puerto Rico. Analysis of baseline and 6-month follow-up data from 670 IDUs in NY and 316 in PR showed that 47% NY and 20% in PR reported cessation of injection at follow-up (p < .001). In multivariate analyses, having been in drug treatment since baseline was the only significant predictor of cessation for both sites (NY: AOR = 1.80; PR: AOR = 3.10). Increasing availability of methadone maintenance treatment, especially in PR, was indicated.
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 01/2007; 33(2):291-9. · 1.55 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2001, New York State enacted legislation to allow the provision of syringes by pharmacies and healthcare providers without prescription (ESAP, the Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program). A longitudinal study of IDUs (n=130) found that pre-ESAP, about half used only the safest source (needle exchange programs [NEPs]). Post-ESAP implementation, ESAP sources were initiated by 14%. Frequency of injection was related to ESAP use and those who used unsafe (or possibly unsafe) sources were as likely to use ESAP as those who had previously used only NEPs. The findings indicate that providing multiple sources of safe syringes for IDUs is necessary.
AIDS and Behavior 12/2006; 10(6):717-21. · 3.49 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drug users have been found to be at high risk of mortality but the mortality experience of Hispanic drug users remains understudied. This study assessed mortality among Puerto Rican injection drug users (IDUs) in New York City (NY), and in Puerto Rico (PR). Study subjects were 637 IDUs from NY and 319 IDUs from PR. Mortality was ascertained using data from the National Death Index. Annual mortality rate of the NY cohort was 1.3 per 100 person years compared to the PR cohort with a rate of 4.8. Compared to the Hispanic population of New York City, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of the NY cohort was 4.4. Compared to the population of Puerto Rico, the SMR of the PR cohort was 16.2. The four principal causes of death were: NY-HIV/AIDS (50.0%), drug overdoses (13.3%), cardiovascular conditions (13.3%), and pulmonary conditions (10.0%); PR-HIV/AIDS (37.0%), drug overdoses (24.1%), sepsis (13.0%), and homicide (11.1%). Modeling time to death using Cox proportional hazards regression, the relative risk of mortality of the PR cohort as compared to the NY cohort was 9.2. The other covariates found to be significantly associated with time to death were age, gender, education, social isolation, intoxication with alcohol, and HIV seropositivity. The large disparity in mortality rates found in this study suggests that health disparities research should be expanded to identify intra-group disparities. Furthermore, these results point to an urgent need to reduce excess mortality among IDUs in Puerto Rico.
Journal of Urban Health 12/2006; 83(6):1114-26. · 1.89 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study compared health care utilization and HIV-related risk behaviors between HIV-infected African American (n=123) and Hispanic (n=97) drug users recruited in New York City. African Americans were more likely to use crack, while Hispanics were more likely to use heroin and speedball. African Americans were more likely than Hispanics to report having traded sex for drugs or money. The two groups did not significantly differ in HIV care utilization (e.g., taking HIV medications). In multiple logistic regression analyses, for African Americans, taking HIV medications was significantly related to enrollment in HIV clinics and non-use of crack, while for Hispanics, being married and attending HIV support groups were significant factors. Drug treatment enrollment was significantly related to non-use of crack and injection drug use among African Americans, and a trend (p=.07) was found between injection drug use and drug treatment enrollment among Hispanics. The findings indicate the continuing need for harm reduction programs for HIV positive drug using populations. Programs for these populations should also take into account the different risk behaviors among different racial/ethnic groups, in order to tailor culturally sensitive programs for HIV care and intervention.
Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 06/2006; 17(2):265-75. · 1.10 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] 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.
Substance Use & Misuse 01/2006; 41(9):1313-36. · 1.11 Impact Factor