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Ethn Dis. 2008 Spring;18(2 Suppl 2):S2-99-104.

Profile of Puerto Rican HIV/AIDS patients with early and non-early initiation of injection drug use.

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  • 1Retrovirus Research Center, Internal Medicine Department Universidad Central del Caribe, School of Medicine, Bayamón, Puerto Rico, USA.



Early initiation of injection drug use (IDU) increases the risk of HIV infection.


We compare the sociodemographic, psychosocial, and clinical profiles of HIV-positive IDU patients according to the age at which IDU was initiated. This is a cross-sectional study of 1308 patients seen from 1992 through 2005. We compared the profile of patients with early (age < 13 years) vs non-early (age > 13 years) initiation of IDU. The Fisher and chi2 differences in proportions were performed to assess difference among study groups with earlier IDU. The Mantel-Haenszel test was used to calculate the odds ratio. The Kaplan-Meier and log rank tests were used to assess the median survival. Differences were considered significant at alpha = .05.


Early initiation of IDU was reported in 11% of our sample. The early initiation group was more likely to smoke tobacco, use alcohol, attempt suicide, have a history of incarceration, have economic problems, and have episodes of anxiety, confusion, depression, excitation, impulsivity, and violence (P < .05). The general survival time of patients was 36.9 months (95% confidence interval 31.9-42.0). A higher prevalence of candidial esophagitis and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia and a lower prevalence of hepatitis C virus coinfection were seen in the early initiation group (P < .05). No differences in mortality, use of antiretroviral therapy, or CD4 T-cell count were seen.


Differences in terms of lifestyle, stress factors, and history of psychological events were seen in the group of patients with early initiation of IDU seen in our facilities. Differences in the clinical scenario were documented.

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