AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 253–262 | Cite as

A Qualitative Exploration of Gender in the Context of Injection Drug Use in Two US–Mexico Border Cities

  • Michelle Firestone Cruz
  • Andrea Mantsios
  • Rebeca Ramos
  • Patricia Case
  • Kimberly C. Brouwer
  • Maria Elena Ramos
  • Wendy Davila Fraga
  • Carl A. Latkin
  • Cari L. Miller
  • Steffanie A. Strathdee
Original Paper


Injection drug use is of increasing concern along the U.S.–Mexico border where Tijuana and Ciudad (Cd.) Juarez are located. We conducted a qualitative study to explore the context of drug use, with a focus on gender differences. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 male and 10 female injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana and 15 male and 8 female IDUs in Cd. Juarez. Topics included types of drugs used, injection settings, access to sterile needles and environmental influences. Interviews were taped, transcribed and translated. Content analysis was conducted to identify themes. Several themes emerged with respect to gender: (a) how drugs were obtained; (b) where drugs were used; (c) relationship dynamics surrounding drug use; and (d) sex in exchange for money or drugs. Men reported buying and injecting in shooting galleries and other locations, whereas women tended to buy and inject drugs with people they knew and trusted. All men reported having shared syringes in shooting galleries, often with strangers. In these two cities, venue-based interventions may be more appropriate for male IDUs, whereas personal network interventions may be more appropriate among female IDUs.


Injection drug use Gender Mexico Social networks 



The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA09225-S11) and the UCSD Center for AIDS Research, which is funded by the National Institute of Health (AI36214-06). The authors would also like to acknowledge support from the Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) and NIDA (grant DA09227-S11). K. B. is supported by grant K01DA020364 and a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award sponsored by the NIH (5 T32 AI07384). We wish to thank the interviewers and transcribers and the study respondents who gave so generously of their time in sharing their experiences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Firestone Cruz
    • 1
  • Andrea Mantsios
    • 1
  • Rebeca Ramos
    • 2
  • Patricia Case
    • 3
  • Kimberly C. Brouwer
    • 1
  • Maria Elena Ramos
    • 2
  • Wendy Davila Fraga
    • 4
  • Carl A. Latkin
    • 5
  • Cari L. Miller
    • 6
  • Steffanie A. Strathdee
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of International Health and Cross-Cultural Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of California San Diego School of MedicineSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Programa CompañerosCiudad JuárezMéxico
  3. 3.The Fenway InstituteBostonUSA
  4. 4.Universidad Autónoma de Baja California–Tijuana School of MedicineTijuanaUSA
  5. 5.The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  6. 6.BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDSVancouverCanada

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