Cover: Drug Paraphernalia Laws and Injection-Related Infectious Disease Risk Among Drug Injectors

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

Published in: Journal of Drug Issues, v. 29, no. 1, Winter 1999, p. 1-16

Posted on rand.org 1999

by Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Alex H. Kral, Elizabeth A. Erringer, Brian R. Edlin

Drug paraphernalia laws in 47 U.S. 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. The authors examined the relationship between concern about arrest while carrying drug paraphernalia and injection-related risk behaviors among street-recruited IDUs in Northern California. In 1996, 424 IDUs were interviewed, of whom 76 percent were African American, 36 percent were female, and 15 percent were HIV positive. Thirty-five percent (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 (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] =2.28; 95 percent confidence interval [CI]=1.19, 4.34) and injection supplies (AOR= 3.23; 95 percent CI=2.03, 5.13). These data suggest that decriminalizing syringes and needles would likely result in reductions in the behaviors that expose IDUs to blood borne viruses.

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