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“Injection First”: A Unique Group of Injection Drug Users in Tijuana, Mexico

Authors


Dr. Strathdee, University of California San Diego, School of Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, Mail Code 0507, La Jolla, CA 92093–0507. E-mail: sstrathdee@ucsd.edu.

Abstract

Using baseline data from a study of injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana, Mexico (N = 1,052), we identified social and behavioral factors associated with injecting at the same age or earlier than other administration routes of illicit drug use (eg, “injection first”) and examined whether this IDU subgroup had riskier drug using and sexual behaviors than other IDUs. Twelve-percent “injected first.” Characteristics independently associated with a higher odds of “injection first” included being younger at first injection, injecting heroin as their first drug, being alone at the first injection episode, and having a sexual debut at the same age or earlier as when they initiated drug use; family members’ illicit drug use was associated with lower odds of injecting first. When adjusting for age at first injection and number of years injecting, “injection first” IDUs had lower odds of ever overdosing, and ever trading sex. On the other hand, they were less likely to have ever been enrolled in drug treatment, and more commonly obtained their syringes from potentially unsafe sources. In conclusion, a sizable proportion of IDUs in Tijuana injected as their first drug using experience, although evidence that this was a riskier subgroup of IDUs was inconclusive. (Am J Addict 2011;21: 23–30)

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