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Drug Paraphernalia Law and Injection-Related Infectious Disease Risk Among Injectors

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 29 Issue: 1 Dated: Winter 1999 Pages: 1-16
R N Bluthenthal; A H Kral; E A Erringer; B R Edlin
Date Published
16 pages
This article reports the results of a study that examined the relationship between concern about arrest while carrying drug paraphernalia and injection-related risk behaviors among injectors.
Drug paraphernalia laws in 47 States make it illegal for injection drug users (IDUs) to possess syringes. It has been suggested that these laws lead to syringe sharing by deterring IDUs from carrying their own syringes. Researchers interviewed 424 street-recruited IDUs, of whom 76 percent were African American, 36 percent were female and 15 percent were HIV-positive. Thirty-five percent (n+150) reported concern about being arrested while carrying drug paraphernalia. In multivariate analyses that controlled for potential confounders, IDUs concerned about being arrested were significantly more likely than other IDUs to share syringes. These data suggest that decriminalizing syringes and needles would likely result in reductions in the behaviors that expose IDUs to blood-borne viruses. Tables, references