AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 2637–2643 | Cite as

The Association Between Law Enforcement Encounters and Syringe Sharing Among IDUs on Skid Row: A Mixed Methods Analysis

  • Karla D. Wagner
  • Rebecca Simon-Freeman
  • Ricky N. Bluthenthal
Original Paper

Abstract

The legal environment is one factor that influences injection drug users’ (IDUs) risk for HIV and other bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis C virus (HCV). We examined the association between law enforcement encounters (i.e., arrests and citations) and receptive syringe sharing among IDUs in the context of an intensified policing effort. We conducted a mixed methods analysis of 30 qualitative and 187 quantitative interviews with IDUs accessing services at a Los Angeles, CA syringe exchange program from 2008 to 2009. Qualitative findings illustrate concerns related to visibility, drug withdrawal, and previous history of arrest/incarceration. In quantitative analysis, the number of citations received, current homelessness, and perceiving that being arrested would be a “big problem” were independently associated with recent syringe sharing. Findings illustrate some of the unintended public health consequences associated with intensified street-level policing, including risk for HIV and HCV transmission.

Keywords

HIV Policing Injection drug use Syringe sharing 

Resumen

El ambiente legal es uno de factores que influyen en el riesgo de infección por VIH y otros patógenos trasmitidos por sangre tales como virus de hepatitis C (VHC) en los usuarios de drogas inyectables (UDIS). Examinamos la asociación entre los encuentros con elementos de seguridad pública (por ejemplo arrestos y citatorios) y el uso receptivo de jeringas compartidas dentro de los UDIS en el contexto de intensificar los esfuerzos policiacos. Conducimos un análisis de métodos mixtos de 30 entrevistas cualitativas y 187 entrevistas cuantitativas con UDIS que accedían a los servicios del programa de intercambio de jeringas en Los Ángeles, CA del 2008–2009. Los resultados cualitativos ilustran consternación relacionada con visibilidad, la malilla (sindrome de abstinencia) e historia previa de arrestos/encarcelación. En el análisis cuantitativo, el número de citatorios recibidos, situación de calle actual y la percepción de que el ser arrestado involucraría un mayor problema, fueron independientemente asociados con el uso reciente de jeringas compartidas. Los resultados ilustran algunas de las consecuencias de salud pública no intencionales asociadas con actividades policíacas intensificadas a nivel de calle, incluyendo el riesgo de trasmisión de VIH y VHC.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karla D. Wagner
    • 1
  • Rebecca Simon-Freeman
    • 2
  • Ricky N. Bluthenthal
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Global Public Health, Department of MedicineUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention ResearchUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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