Peter L Flom

NDRI-USA, Inc., New York City, New York, United States

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Publications (35)86.94 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Aims: To determine if measures of drug use risk, sexual risk, external norms and internalized norms developed for impoverished neighbourhoods of New York are usable in similar neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires and have similar associations with each other in the two cities despite the many cultural, social, economic and political differences between these localities. Methods: In 2003–2004, 240 current non-injection drug users (IDUs) and 63 current IDUs, aged 21–35 years, were interviewed in poor neighbourhoods of the Southern Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires about their drug use, sexual behaviours, internalized norms and external norms (actual and perceived social pressures from others) using measures developed in New York (Flom, Friedman, Benny, & Curtis, 2001a, Flom, et al., 2001b; Flom, Friedman, Jose, Neaigus, & Curtis, 2001c). Analyses studied associations between a hierarchical scale of drug use risk and the other variables. Results: The hierarchical risk scale of drug use was associated with sexual risk behaviours; with external norms towards drug injection and sex with drug injectors, and internalized norms about social distance from drug injectors. Conclusions: The hierarchical drug use risk scale and the measures of external norms had relationships similar to those found in the earlier studies in New York City. This supports the ideas that these measures may have a degree of cross-cultural applicability.
    08/2010; 17(5):544-559.
  • Journal of Urban Health 12/2008; 85(6):857. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is hyper-endemic in injecting drug users. There is also excess HCV among non-injection drug users who smoke, snort, or sniff heroin, cocaine, crack, or methamphetamine. To summarize the research literature on HCV in drug users and identify gaps in knowledge, we conducted a synthesis of the relevant research carried out between 1989 and 2006. Using rigorous search methods, we identified and extracted data from published and unpublished reports of HCV among drug users. We designed a quality assurance system to ensure accuracy and consistency in all phases of the project. We also created a set of items to assess study design quality in each of the reports we included. We identified 629 reports containing HCV prevalence rates, incidence rates and/or genotype distribution among injecting or non-injecting drug user populations published between January 1989 and December 2006. The majority of reports were from Western Europe (41%), North America (26%), Asia (11%) and Australia/New Zealand (10%). We also identified reports from Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. The number of publications reporting HCV rates in drug users increased dramatically between 1989 and 2006 to 27-52 reports per year after 1998. The data collection and quality assurance phases of the HCV Synthesis Project have been completed. Recommendations for future research on HCV in drug users have come out of our data collection phase. Future research reports can enhance their contributions to our understanding of HCV etiology by clearly defining their drug user participants with respect to type of drug and route of administration. Further, the use of standard reporting methods for risk factors would enable data to be combined across a larger set of studies; this is especially important for HCV seroconversion studies which suffer from small sample sizes and low power to examine risk factors.
    BMC Medical Research Methodology 10/2008; 8:62. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: People in high-risk neighbourhoods try to protect their friends, neighbours, relatives and others from the social and physical risks associated with sex and drug use. This paper develops and validates a community-grounded questionnaire to measure such 'intravention' (health-directed efforts to protect others). An initial ethnography, including life-history interviews and focus groups, explored the forms of intravention activities engaged in by residents of Bushwick (a high-risk New York City neighbourhood). Grassroots categories of intraventions were derived and questions developed to ask about such behaviours. Face validity and adequacy of the questions were assessed by independent experts. Pre-testing was conducted, and reliability and validity were assessed. An instrument including 110 intravention items was administered to 57 community-recruited residents. Analysis focused on 57 items in 11 domain-specific subscale. All subscales had good to very good reliability; Cronbach's alpha ranged from .81 to .95. The subscales evidenced both convergent and discriminant validity. Although further testing of this instrument on additional populations is clearly warranted, this intravention instrument seems valid and reliable. It can be used by researchers in comparative and longitudinal studies of the causes, prevalence and affects of different intravention activities in communities. It can benefit public health practitioners by helping them understand the environments in which they are intervening and by helping them find ways to cooperate with local neighbourhood-level health activists.
    SAHARA J: journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance / SAHARA , Human Sciences Research Council 10/2008; 5(3):144-57. · 0.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epidemics, behaviors, and programs to change behaviors and ameliorate epidemics are shaped by the characteristics of geographically and socially defined communities. This chapter presents the rationale, methods, and selected findings from a study of injection drug users, HIV, and services for drug injectors in the 96 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. It presents data that show that metropolitan areas vary widely in the prevalence of injectors in their populations; in HIV prevalence among injectors; and in the percentage of injectors who are in drug abuse treatment. Furthermore, theoretically specified locality characteristics, such as inequality, legal repression of drug users and others, the degree of popular organization and mobilization for helping drug users, fiscal constraints and others, help predict the values of these variables in metropolitan areas. These findings help us to identify metropolitan area characteristics, including some that can be changed by public authorities or as a result of popular demand and social movements, which can be targeted for intervention to address drug-related health issues. Future research on the social and geographic causation of injection drug use, of its sequelae, and of programs like drug treatment and syringe exchange is clearly warranted, and should include research interventions that change metropolitan area characteristics in ways that reduce drug-related problems.
    09/2008: pages 255-265;
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    ABSTRACT: This paper estimates the prevalence of current injection drug users (IDUs) in 96 large U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) annually from 1992 to 2002. Multiplier/allocation methods were used to estimate the prevalence of injectors because confidentiality restrictions precluded the use of other commonly used estimation methods, such as capture-recapture. We first estimated the number of IDUs in the U.S. each year from 1992 to 2002 and then apportioned these estimates to MSAs using multiplier methods. Four different types of data indicating drug injection were used to allocate national annual totals to MSAs, creating four distinct series of estimates of the number of injectors in each MSA. Each series was smoothed over time; and the mean value of the four component estimates was taken as the best estimate of IDUs for that MSA and year (with the range of component estimates indicating the degree of uncertainty in the estimates). Annual cross-sectional correlations of the MSA-level IDU estimates with measures of unemployment, hepatitis C mortality prevalence, and poisoning mortality prevalence were used to validate our estimates. MSA-level IDU estimates correlated moderately well with validators, demonstrating adequate convergence validity. Overall, the number of IDUs per 10,000 persons aged 15-64 years varied from 30 to 348 across MSAs (mean 126.9, standard deviation 65.3, median 106.6, interquartile range 78-162) in 1992 and from 37 to 336 across MSAs (mean 110.6, standard deviation 57.7, median 96.1, interquartile range 67-134) in 2002. A multilevel model showed that overall, across the 96 MSAs, the number of injectors declined each year until 2000, after which the IDU prevalence began to increase. Despite the variation in component estimates and methodological and component data set limitations, these local IDU prevalence estimates may be used to assess: (1) predictors of change in IDU prevalence; (2) differing IDU trends between localities; (3) the adequacy of service delivery to IDUs; and (4) infectious disease dynamics among IDUs across time.
    Journal of Urban Health 06/2008; 85(3):323-51. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A prior study concluded that drug treatment coverage, defined as the percentage of injection drug users in drug treatment, varied from 1 percent to 39 percent (median 9 percent) in 96 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States. Here, we determine which metropolitan area characteristics are associated with drug treatment coverage. We conducted secondary analysis of official data, including the number of injection drug users in treatment and other variables, for 94 large US MSAs. We estimated the number of injection drug users in these metropolitan areas using previously described methods. We used lagged cross-sectional analyses where the independent variables, chosen on the basis of a Theory of Community Action, preceded the dependent variable (drug treatment coverage) in time. Predictors were determined using ordinary least squares multiple regression and confirmed with robust regression. Independent predictors of higher drug treatment coverage for injectors were: presence of organisations that support treatment (unstandardized beta=1.64; 95 percent CI .59 to 2.69); education expenditures per capita in the MSA (unstandardized beta=.12; 95 percent CI -.34 to 2.69); lower percentage of drug users in treatment who are non-injection drug users (unstandardized beta=-0.18; 95 percent CI -0.24 to -0.12); higher percentage of the population who are non-Hispanic White (unstandardized beta=.14; 95 percent CI .08 to .20); lower per capita long-term debt of governments in the metropolitan area (unstandardized beta=-0.93; 95 percent CI -1.51 to -0.35). In conditions of scarce treatment coverage for drug injectors, an indicator of epidemiologic need (the per capita extent of AIDS among injection drug users) does not predict treatment coverage, and competition for treatment slots by non-injectors may reduce injectors' access to treatment. Metropolitan finances limit treatment coverage. Political variables (racial structures, the presence of organisations that support drug treatment, and budget priorities) may be important determinants of treatment coverage for injectors. Although confidence in these results would be higher if we had used a longitudinal design, these results suggest that further research and action that address structural, political, and other barriers to treatment expansion are sorely needed.
    The International journal on drug policy 01/2008; 18(6):475-85. · 2.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Early acquisition of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection appears to affect a substantial proportion of injection drug users (IDUs)--between 20 percent and 90 percent. Analysing the range of HCV prevalence estimates in new injectors may help identify factors that can be modified to reduce HCV transmission. The HCV Synthesis Project is a meta-analysis of studies of HCV epidemiology and prevention in drug users worldwide. In this preliminary analysis, we examined data from 127 studies of IDUs that reported HCV prevalence in relation to age or year since onset of drug injection, analysing heterogeneity and calculating summary statistics where appropriate. Six studies reported gender-specific HCV prevalence rates among young or new injectors; the group mean prevalence was 47 percent for men and 44 percent for women (NS). Group mean age for HCV-negatives was 24.7 years (range 24-28) and 26.1 years (range 21-31) for HCV-positives (n=8 studies). Data were examined from 13 studies that compared HCV prevalence among young injectors to older injectors using 5-year age categories; substantial variation was present within these categories such that measures of central tendency were not calculated. Similarly, among studies reporting HCV prevalence among IDUs in relation to 1-year intervals of duration of injection (<1 year, <2 years, and <3 years), considerable variability was observed. Notably, there were studies in each category that reported prevalence of 70 percent or higher among recent-onset drug injectors. Our findings confirm previous studies reporting high risk of acquiring HCV shortly after onset of injection; thus, HCV prevention programmes must emphasize methods to reach new injectors. Future research should (1) report data on time to infection in depth, (2) provide detailed information on study methodology, and (3) characterize the research setting with respect to underlying factors that affect injection practices and networks. This will permit synthesis of a greater number of studies and may lead to the identification of factors that impede HCV transmission.
    The International journal on drug policy 11/2007; 18(5):341-51. · 2.54 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Risk networks can transmit HIV or other infections; social networks can transmit social influence and thus help shape norms and behaviors. This primarily-theoretical paper starts with a review of network concepts, and then presents data from a New York network study to study patterns of sexual and injection linkages among IDUs and other drug users and nonusers, men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women, other men and other women in a high-risk community and the distribution of HIV, sex at group sex events, and health intravention behaviors in this network. It then discusses how risk network microstructures might influence HIV epidemics and urban vulnerability to epidemics; what social and other forces (such as "Big Events" like wars or ecological disasters) might shape networks and their associated norms, intraventions, practices and behaviors; and how network theory and research have and may continue to contribute to developing interventions against HIV epidemics.
    AIDS and Behavior 10/2007; 11(5):641-51. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: "Social capital" has been critiqued as distracting attention from inequalities and policies that produce ill health. We support this critique insofar as social capital refers to the degree of trust and consensus in a locality, but find value in another dimension often included in the concept of social capital--social network ties and their associated communication patterns. We present a case study of Bushwick, a community of 100,000 people in Brooklyn NY, to suggest that the network aspect of "social capital" is useful to understand the active, on-the-ground processes by which residents of some neighborhoods beset by poverty, racial/ethnic subordination, and internal divisions (that themselves arise from inequalities and state policies) work out ways to defend their own and others' safety and health. We use a combination of population-representative survey data for young adults; sexual network survey data; and ethnography to show that Bushwick residents (including drug users and dealers) have used social network ties, communication, and normative pressures to reduce the extent to which they are put at risk by the drug trade and by drug-use-related HIV/AIDS in spite of conflicting interests, disparate values, and widespread distrust both of other community members and of dominant social institutions. This was done by "intravention" health communications, development of protective norms, informal negotiations, and other forms of adjustments within and among various groups--but it occurred in the absence of trust or consensus in this community. We conclude both (1) that social network interpretations of "social capital" might be better conceptualized in dialectic terms as collective action to survive in a harsh social order, and (2) that the social capital theory emphasis on trust and consensus as important causal factors for lowering drug-related risks at the community level may be a romanticized and erroneous perspective.
    American Journal of Preventive Medicine 07/2007; 32(6 Suppl):S160-70. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This systematic review examined the evidence on the prevalence of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in non-injecting drug users (NIDUs) who sniff, smoke or snort drugs such as heroin, cocaine, crack or methamphetamine. The search included studies published from January 1989 to January 2006. Twenty-eight eligible studies were identified and the prevalence of HCV in these NIDU populations ranged from 2.3 to 35.3%. There was substantial variation in study focus and in the quality of the NIDU data presented in the studies. The results of our systematic review suggested that there are important gaps in the research of HCV in NIDUs. We identified a problem of study focus; much of the research did not aim to study HCV in users of non-injection drugs. Instead, NIDUs were typically included as a secondary research concern, with a principal focus on the problem of transmission of HCV in IDU populations. Despite methodological issues, HCV prevalence in this population is much higher than in a non-drug using population, even though some IDUs might have inadvertently been included in the NIDU samples. These studies point to a real problem of HCV in NIDU populations, but the causal pathway to infection remains unclear.
    Drug and Alcohol Dependence 07/2007; 89(1):1-12. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Community activism can be important in shaping public health policies. For example, political pressure and direct action from grassroots activists have been central to the formation of syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in the United States. We explored why SEPs are present in some localities but not others, hypothesizing that programs are unevenly distributed across geographic areas as a result of political, socioeconomic, and organizational characteristics of localities, including needs, resources, and local opposition. We examined the effects of these factors on whether SEPs were present in different US metropolitan statistical areas in 2000. Predictors of the presence of an SEP included percentage of the population with a college education, the existence of local AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) chapters, and the percentage of men who have sex with men in the population. Need was not a predictor.
    American Journal of Public Health 04/2007; 97(3):437-47. · 3.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the social and health sciences, data are often hierarchical (subjects nested in groups). One kind of hierarchy is the dyad, or couple, where each group consists of two subjects. Dyadic data pose particular problems for statistical analysis for several reasons: First, variation may occur at the individual or dyadic level. Second, the data are not independent. Third, the small group size poses special difficulties. Multilevel models have been used for dyadic data; we demonstrate the use of PROC NLMIXED and PROC GLIMMIX, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this approach in general, and these SAS procedures in particular. We illustrate this with data on predictors of viral Hepatitis C among heterosexual couples in Harlem in New York City.
    01/2007;
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    ABSTRACT: To understand associations of punitive policies to the population prevalence of injection drug users and to HIV seroprevalence among injectors. A lagged-cross-sectional analysis of metropolitan statistical area data. Estimates of drug injectors per capita and of HIV seroprevalence among injectors in 89 large US metropolitan areas were regressed on three measures of legal repressiveness (hard drug arrests per capita; police employees per capita; and corrections expenditures per capita) controlling for other metropolitan area characteristics. No legal repressiveness measures were associated with injectors per capita; all three measures of legal repressiveness were positively associated with HIV prevalence among injectors. These findings suggest that legal repressiveness may have little deterrent effect on drug injection and may have a high cost in terms of HIV and perhaps other diseases among injectors and their partners--and that alternative methods of maintaining social order should be investigated.
    AIDS 02/2006; 20(1):93-9. · 6.41 Impact Factor
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    Samuel Friedman, Diana Rossi, Peter L Flom
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    ABSTRACT: Some, but not all, "big events" such as wars, revolutions, socioeconomic transitions, economic collapses, and ecological disasters in recent years seem to lead to large-scale HIV outbreaks (Friedman et al, in press; Hankins et al 2002). This was true of transitions in the USSR, South Africa and Indonesia, for example, but not those in the Philippines or (so far) in Argentina. It has been hypothesized that whether or not HIV outbreaks occur is shaped in part by the nature and extent of changes in the numbers of voluntary or involuntary risk-takers, which itself may be related to the growth of roles such as sex-sellers or drug sellers; the riskiness of the behaviors engaged in by risk-takers; and changes in sexual and injection networks and other "mixing patterns" variables. Each of these potential causal processes, in turn, is shaped by the nature of pre-existing social networks and the patterns and content of normative regulation and communication that happen within these social networks-and on how these social networks and their characteristics are changed by the "big event" in question. We will present ideas about what research is needed to help understand these events and to help guide both indigenous community-based efforts to prevent HIV outbreaks and also to guide those who organize external intervention efforts and aid.
    Connections (Toronto, Ont.). 01/2006; 27(1):9-14.
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    ABSTRACT: Sexual relations between drug injectors (IDUs) and crack smokers (CS), and non-drug users are a major means of HIV spread to the broader population. However there is little literature describing community processes that regulate sexual and social partnerships among these groups. We describe these relationships in Bushwick, a low-income, mainly Latino neighbourhood in Brooklyn, NY. In this community, IDU and CS are heavily stigmatized, both by non-users and by some users. Known IDU/CS may find it harder to start and maintain social and sexual relationships, and to get jobs or support. Partially as a result of this stigma, IDU/CS attempt to 'keep it together' and hide either their drug use or its extent from other residents. Nevertheless, other residents believe, sometimes falsely, that they can distinguish users from nonusers. We describe some potential negative consequences of these beliefs and interactions, including their effects on risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
    AIDS Care 11/2005; 17(7):802-13. · 1.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We conducted a community-based study of the prevalence and correlates of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and immunization among young adults in a "drug supermarket" neighborhood in New York City. Four hundred eighty-nine young adults ages 18-24 years were recruited from Bushwick, Brooklyn through multistage household probability sampling (n = 332) and targeted sampling (n = 157), interviewed, and tested for three hepatitis B markers (HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs). Serological evidence of HBV infection was found in 8.0% (6.0% in the household sample and 12.1% in the targeted sample) and of hepatitis B immunization in 19.6% (22.6% in the household sample and 13.4% in the targeted sample). HBV infection was higher among young adults who either used crack or injected drugs and among those who traded sex for money or drugs. Having Medicaid was significantly associated with lower odds of infection in the household sample and higher odds of immunization in the targeted sample. Although adolescent hepatitis B immunization has been a public health priority in the United States since 1995, nearly three-quarters of young adults in this community did not have serological evidence of being either exposed or immunized. Whereas subsequent younger generations benefited from universal childhood hepatitis B immunization, this particular cohort of young adults who live in communities like Bushwick presents a unique group for prevention intervention.
    Journal of Urban Health 10/2005; 82(3):479-87. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article estimates HIV prevalence rates among injection drug users (IDUs) in 95 large US metropolitan areas to facilitate social and policy analyses of HIV epidemics. HIV prevalence rates among IDUs in these metropolitan areas were calculated by taking the mean of two estimates: (1) estimates based on regression adjustments to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing data and (2) estimates based on the ratio of the number of injectors living with HIV to the number of injectors living in the metropolitan area. The validity of the resulting estimates was assessed. HIV prevalence rates varied from 2 to 28% (median 5.9%; interquartile range 4.0-10.2%). These HIV prevalence rates correlated with similar estimates calculated for 1992 and with two theoretically related phenomena: laws against over-the-counter purchase of syringes and income inequality. Despite limitations in the accuracy of these estimates, they can be used for structural analyses of the correlates, predictors and consequences of HIV prevalence rates among drug injectors in metropolitan areas and for assessing and targeting the service needs for drug injectors.
    Journal of Urban Health 10/2005; 82(3):434-45. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 04/2005; 191(5):818-20; author reply 820-1. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This article estimates the population prevalence of current injection drug users (IDUs) in 96 large US metropolitan areas to facilitate structural analyses of its predictors and sequelae and assesses the extent to which drug abuse treatment and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) counseling and testing are made available to drug injectors in each metropolitan area. We estimated the total number of current IDUs in the United States and then allocated the large metropolitan area total among large metropolitan areas using four different multiplier methods. Mean values were used as best estimates, and their validity and limitations were assessed. Prevalence of drug injectors per 10,000 population varied from 19 to 173 (median 60; interquartile range 42-87). Proportions of drug injectors in treatment varied from 1.0% to 39.3% (median 8.6%); and the ratio of HIV counseling and testing events to the estimated number of IDUs varied from 0.013 to 0.285 (median 0.082). Despite limitations in the accuracy of these estimates, they can be used for structural analyses of the correlates and predictors of the population density of drug injectors in metropolitan areas and for assessing the extent of service delivery to drug injectors. Although service provision levels varied considerably, few if any metropolitan areas seemed to be providing adequate levels of services.
    Journal of Urban Health 10/2004; 81(3):377-400. · 1.89 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

713 Citations
86.94 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008
    • NDRI-USA, Inc.
      New York City, New York, United States
    • Emory University
      • Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education
      Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 2001–2007
    • National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2006
    • Johns Hopkins University
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2003
    • Beth Israel Medical Center
      New York City, New York, United States