Knowledge about AIDS and high-risk behavior among intravenous drug users in New York City

P. A. Selwyn, C. Feiner, C. P. Cox, C. Lipshutz, R. L. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Two hundred and sixty-one intravenous (IV) drug users, distributed between a methadone maintenance program and a large detention facility in New York City, were interviewed about knowledge of AIDS, needle use practices, and risk-reduction efforts. Ninety-seven per cent of subjects recognized needle-sharing as an AIDS risk factor; subjects showed less awareness about the effectiveness of certain risk-reduction techniques and tended to over-estimated the risk of casual contact. Of those still sharing needles at the time of first becoming aware of AIDS, 63% reported having subsequently either stopped needle-sharing or caused IV drug use entirely. Logistic regression analysis indicated that continued needle-sharing behavior was associated with the detention facility site and lower scores on an AIDS knowledge questionnaire; reduced needle-sharing was more evident among methadone program patients and among subjects with greater knowledge about AIDS. The most common reasons for continued needle-sharing among those who continued to share needles despite knowledge of risk were: 'need to inject drugs, with no clean needle available' and 'only share with close friend or relative', offered by 46 and 45% of subjects, respectively. Results suggest that certain subgroups of IV drug users have adopted risk-reduction measures in response to AIDS. Expanded educational programs, increased drug treatment capacity, and additional strategies addressing drug users' access to sterile injection equipment and the social context of needle-sharing may be necessary to curb the further spread of AIDS among IV drug users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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