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Int J Drug Policy. 2019 Jul;69:60-69. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Jun 10.

Injection risk norms and practices among migrant Puerto Rican people who inject drugs in New York City: The limits of acculturation theory.

Author information

1
LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, NY, 11101, USA; National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. 71 West 23rdStreet, 4thFloor, New York, NY, 10010, USA. Electronic address: gelpi-acosta@ndri.org.
2
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. 71 West 23rdStreet, 4thFloor, New York, NY, 10010, USA. Electronic address: guarino@ndri.org.
3
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. 71 West 23rdStreet, 4thFloor, New York, NY, 10010, USA. Electronic address: benoit@ndri.org.
4
Centers for Drug Use and HIV Research, College of Global Public Health, New York University, 665 Broadway, 11thFloor, New York, NY, 10012, USA. Electronic address: shd2@nyu.edu.
5
Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA. Electronic address: Enrique.pouget@brooklyn.cuny.edu.
6
National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. 71 West 23rdStreet, 4thFloor, New York, NY, 10010, USA. Electronic address: rodriguez@ndri.org.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Among people who inject drugs (PWID) in New York City (NYC), racial minorities are disproportionately infected with HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). Prior research has shown that PWID who started injecting drugs in Puerto Rico (P.R.) tend to maintain the risky injection behaviors learned there. This study identifies the P.R.-native norms supporting the continued injection risk behavior of migrant Puerto Rican PWID in NYC to inform a culturally appropriate risk-reduction intervention.

METHODS:

40 migrant Puerto Rican PWID were recruited in NYC for a longitudinal qualitative study. The sample was stratified to include 20 migrants with <3 years in NYC and 20 migrants with >3-6 years in NYC. Time-location sampling was used to curb possible network bias in recruitment. Over 12 months, migrants completed semi-structured interviews at baseline, monthly follow-ups, and study exit. Analyses were guided by grounded theory.

RESULTS:

Most participants (90%) reported having had chronic HCV, and 22.5% reported being HIV-positive. Syringe- and cooker-/cotton-sharing were widespread in both P.R. and NYC. The ubiquitous practice of cleaning used syringes by "water-rinsing and air-blowing" was guided by a normative belief, learned in P.R., that "water and air kill HIV." Sterile syringe use was not a priority. HCV was not a concern. P.R.-native abstinence-only narratives discouraged opioid agonist treatment (OAT) enrollment among recent migrants (≤3 years). Experiences with drug dealers, prison-power groups, and injection doctors ("Gancheros") in P.R. influenced migrants' injection risk behavior in NYC. Those who were Gancheros in P.R. continued working as Gancheros in NYC.

CONCLUSIONS:

Injection risks make migrant Puerto Rican PWID in NYC vulnerable to HIV/HCV. Harm reduction programs should pay closer attention to the rationales behind these injection risks. A risk-reduction intervention that incorporates the Ganchero figure may be a credible way to help migrants reduce injection risk and accept OAT and syringe exchange programs (SEP).

KEYWORDS:

HCV; HIV; Injection risks; Migrant; New York City; Overdose; PWID; Puerto Rican

PMID:
31196730
PMCID:
PMC6588447
[Available on 2020-07-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.03.016

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