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Intravenous Drug Use and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome): Notes on the Social Economy of Needle Sharing

NCJ Number
Contemporary Drug Problems Volume: 14 Issue: 3 Dated: (Fall 1987) Pages: 373-395
S Murphy
Date Published
23 pages
Forty intravenous drug users (IVDU's) in drug-using networks in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas were interviewed to determine their knowledge of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, needle sharing patterns, why they used needles, how they cleaned their needles, and suggestions for an AIDS education or intervention program.
There was substantial disparity between the level of AIDS knowledge between the San Francisco and Los Angeles respondents. San Francisco interviewees generally were aware of their risk of AIDS, and all knew where they could go to be tested. In Los Angeles, AIDS knowledge was sketchy at best. All the interviewees said they had shared needles, most within the last 30 days. Respondents used needles because it signifies the ultimate rebellion and because it is the most economical way to administer expensive drugs. Most estimated they used a single needle 30-60 times. The most common agent for cleaning needles was reported to be tap water. Most of the IVDU's did not view the sexual transmission of AIDS as a risk for them. Only six of the respondents claimed to use condoms regularly, and three of these were active prostitutes. The respondents' suggestions for AIDS education or intervention were to make needles and drug treatment more available, expand community health outreach programs, create women-only support groups, and use persons who contracted AIDS through IVDU in informational campaigns. 26 notes.


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