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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jul 10;89(2-3):145-52. Epub 2007 Feb 5.

Gender differences in injection risk behaviors at the first injection episode.

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Institute for International Research on Youth at Risk, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., New York City, NY 11215, USA.



To examine gender differences in drug injection equipment sharing at injecting initiation.


Young injecting drug users (IDUs) in New York City February 1999-2003 were surveyed about injection risk behaviors and circumstances at initiation. Analyses were gender-stratified and excluded participants who initiated alone. Multiple logistic regression estimated adjusted odds ratios.


Participants (n=249) were 66% male and 82% White. Mean initiation age was 19.2; mean years since initiating was 3.0. Women were significantly more likely to cite social network influence as a reason for initiating, to have male and sex partner initiators, and to share injecting equipment than men. Among women, sharing any injection equipment was associated with initiation by a sex partner and having > or =2 people present. Among men, being injected by someone else predicted sharing any injection equipment, while using a legally obtained syringe was protective.


Social persuasion stemming from sexual and/or social relationships with IDUs may increase women's risk of sharing injection equipment at initiation, and consequently, their early parenteral risk of acquiring blood-borne infections. Interventions should focus on likely initiates, especially women in injecting-discordant sex partnerships, and IDUs (potential initiators).

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