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 January 01, 1999

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.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

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.