Persistence and change in disparities in HIV infection among injection drug users in New York City after large-scale syringe exchange programs

Don C. Des Jarlais, Kamyar Arasteh, Holly Hagan, Courtney McKnight, David C. Perlman, Samuel R. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives. We examined racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection among injection drug users (IDUs) before and after implementation of large-scale syringe exchange programs in New York City. Methods. Participants were recruited from IDUs entering the Beth Israel drug detoxification program in New York City. Participants (n=1203) recruited from 1990 through 1994, prior to large-scale syringe exchange programs (pre-exchange), were compared with 1109 participants who began injecting in 1995 or later and were interviewed in 1995 through 2008 (post-exchange). Results. There were large differences in HIV prevalence among pre-exchange vs post-exchange participants (African Americans, 57% vs 15%; Hispanics, 53% vs 5%; Whites, 27% vs 3%). Pre- and post-exchange relative disparities of HIV prevalence were similar for African Americans vs Whites (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=3.46, 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.41, 4.96 and AOR=4.02, 95% CI=1.67, 9.69, respectively) and Hispanics vs Whites (AOR=1.76, 95% CI=1.49, 2.09 and AOR=1.49, 95% CI=1.02, 2.17). Racial/ethnic group differences in risk behavior did not explain differences in HIV prevalence. Conclusions. New interventions are needed to address continuing disparities in HIV infection among IDUs, but self-reported risk behaviors by themselves may not be adequate outcome measures for evaluating interventions to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S445-S451
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Oct 22 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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