Circumstances, Pedagogy and Rationales for Injection Initiation Among New Drug Injectors
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Injection drug use is especially risky for new injectors. To understand the social and environmental contexts in which risks occur, we interviewed individuals who had initiated injection within the past 3 years (n = 146, 69.2% male) about the circumstances and rationales for their initial injection events. Respondents typically initiated injection due to tolerance (49.3%) and/or for experimentation (61.1%). Most (86.2%) did not possess the technical skills required to self-inject, and relied on the assistance of someone older (58.5%). While low levels of syringe sharing (5.8%) were reported, a majority of respondents (60.5%) engaged in at least one type of behavioral risk. Female injectors were more likely than male injectors to rely on another individual (95.5 vs. 82.2%), often a sex partner (40.5 vs. 7.2%), for assistance. The diversity seen in early injection practices highlights the need for tailored prevention messages to reach this population prior to the onset of injection risk.
KeywordsInjection initiation Drug injectors Heroin HIV HCV
The authors wish to acknowledge Christopher Alley for his work on recruiting and interviewing subjects and Julie O’Brien for her work on study data, as well as all of the new injectors who shared their stories and experiences with us.
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