HIV Risks and Seroprevalence Among Mexican American Injection Drug Users in California

Published in: AIDS and Behavior, v. 15, no. 1, Jan. 2011, p. 95-102

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2011

by Alexis N. Martinez, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Neil M. Flynn, Rachel Anderson, Alex H. Kral

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Latinos in the United States are an ethnically diverse group disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. We describe HIV seroprevalence, HIV risk behaviors and utilization of health services among Mexican American injection drug users (IDUs) in California (n = 286) and compare them to White (n = 830) and African American (n = 314) IDUs. Study participants were recruited from syringe exchange programs (n = 24) in California. HIV seroprevalence among Mexican Americans (0.5%) was dramatically lower than Whites (5%) and African Americans (8%). Mexican Americans reported fewer sex-related risks than Whites and African Americans though injection-related risks remained high. Compared to Whites, Mexican Americans were more likely to participate in drug treatment during a 6 month period (AOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.1, 2.0) but less likely to receive any health care (AOR 0.6, 95% CI 0.5, 0.8). Exploring cultural and structural factors among Mexican American IDUs may offer new insights into how to maintain low rates of HIV seroprevalence and reduce barriers to health care utilization.

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