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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2010 Jan;36(1):18-24. doi: 10.3109/00952990903544802.

Gender differences in social support and depression among injection drug users in Houston, Texas.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Injection drug is the second most frequent HIV/AIDS exposure in the United States. Social support and depression may mediate risky behaviors among drug injectors.


To describe differences in perceived social support and depressive symptoms between male and female injection drug users, and to describe factors associated with depressive symptoms.


Using respondent-driven sampling, we recruited and interviewed injection drug users in Houston, Texas. Data were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Program. We used the short Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D 10) and scales for perceived social support from family, friends, and significant others from the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Four-hundred seventy-one participants had complete data and were included in this analysis.


Seventy-five percent of male and female participants had CES-D scores indicating depressive symptoms. In a multivariate logistic regression, depressive symptoms among men were positively associated with frequent use of speedballs (injecting heroin and cocaine together) and never having tested for HIV, and negatively associated with perceived social support from a special person. Among women, depressive symptoms were positively associated with currently smoking cigarettes, having no health insurance, and more years of injection drug use, and negatively associated with perceived social support from a special person.


Lack of social support from a special person or significant other was associated with depressive symptoms in both males and females. Our findings suggest that depression and social support should be addressed when developing HIV prevention programs among injection drug users.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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