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Venous Envy: The Importance of Having Functional Veins

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 20 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1990) Pages: 291-308
J B Page; P C Smith
Date Published
18 pages
Because of concern over HIV transmission between intravenous drug users (IVDUs) who share needles and syringes and the potential for the IVDU population to act as an epidemiological bridge between populations at great risk and populations that do not engage in homosexual or IV drug use risk behaviors, research is being focused on the role of intravenous injection value in the intravenous drug-using subculture.
Participants were recruited through street contacts, received pre-test counseling and the HIV-antibody test, and were presented for post-test counseling when their blood test results were complete. The researchers probed the values systems underlying intravenous drug use by eliciting narratives about the relationship between users and their injection apparatus. The study population was approximately 90 percent black as the project's recruitment began in black neighborhoods with reputations for drug use activity. Respondents remembered well their first intravenous administration of drugs and the circumstances surrounding it. They described how drug users move on to self-injection and portrayed a general staging pattern of drug testing, beginning with gateway drugs, and advancing to intermediate and then to injected drugs. Most respondents shared the needle and syringe with their companion during their first experience. While IVDUs prefer injection because of the longer and more intense high and lack of waste, drawbacks including exposure to communicable diseases such as hepatitis B, endocarditis, syphilis, and AIDS were mentioned. Some basic principles for HIV intervention among this population that consider the subcultural values are explored. 9 tables, 20 references. (Author abstract modified)


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