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Demographic characteristics, drug use, and sexual behavior of i.v. drug user with AIDS in Bronx, New York.
  • Published Date:
    1991 Jan-Feb
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 106(1):78-84
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Filetype[PDF-1.53 MB]

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  • Description:
    Intravenous (i.v.) drug users are a key factor in the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, yet epidemiologic information about this population, especially those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is scarce. The demographic characteristics, drug use behavior, and sexual practices of i.v. drug users who developed AIDS were prospectively studied at the Montefiore Medical Center from October 1984 to February 1988. The early wave of i.v. drug users with AIDS was characterized by poverty, minority overrepresentation (more than 80 percent were black or Hispanic), and initiation of i.v. drug use at an early age (median age 19 years). Injection of drugs and sharing of needles was frequent. Most had used so-called shooting galleries, but only for a minority of injection episodes. Heroin or cocaine use was almost universal, nearly always accompanied by abuse of another substance, usually alcohol or marijuana. Fewer than a third had ever participated in a methadone maintenance program, but more than 40 percent had been in prison since 1978. All patients had been sexually active, often with partners who were not i.v. drug users. The research suggests a complex interaction existing between high-risk demographic characteristics, drug use practice, and certain types of sexual behavior, all of which contributed to the early spread of HIV infection in this population. Efforts that are directed toward interrupting i.v. drug user-related transmission of HIV need to include consideration of these characteristics.

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