COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Demographic, HIV risk behavior, and health status characteristics of "crack" cocaine injectors compared to other injection drug users in three New England cities

David Buchanan, Janet A Tooze, Susan Shaw, Mark Kinzly, Robert Heimer, Merrill Singer
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2006 February 28, 81 (3): 221-9
16171952

OBJECTIVES: To compare demographic, HIV risk behaviors, and health status characteristics of injection drug users (IDUs) who have injected "crack" cocaine with IDUs who have not.

METHODS: Nine hundred and eighty-nine IDUs were recruited in New Haven, CT, Hartford, CT and Springfield, MA from January 2000 to May 2002. Participants were administered a modified version of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Risk Behavior Assessment Questionnaire.

RESULTS: Nine percent (n = 89) of participants reported "ever" injecting crack cocaine and 4.2% (n = 42) reported injecting crack in the past 30 days. Lifetime and current crack injectors did not differ significantly on any demographic characteristics. Lifetime and current crack injectors did not differ on gender, age or marital status from IDUs who have never injected crack. Significant differences were found on race, education, employment and residence, with crack injectors more likely to be white, employed, better educated and living in New Haven than IDUs who have never injected crack. After adjusting for current (past 30 day) speedball and powder cocaine injection, crack injectors reported higher rates of risky drug use behaviors and female crack injectors reported higher rates of risky sexual behaviors. Crack injectors reported higher rates of abscesses, mental illness and Hepatitis C infection, but not Hepatitis B or HIV infection.

CONCLUSIONS: The emergence of crack cocaine injection requires urgent attention, as this new drug use behavior is associated with elevated rates of high risk behaviors.

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