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 on December 31, 1998

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

Read More

Access further information on this document at www2.criminology.fsu.edu

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

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.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.