Intravenous Drug Abuse and the HIV Epidemic in Two Midwestern Cities: A Preliminary Report

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This paper describes the pattern of intravenous drug abuse in Dayton and Columbus (OH), the social and demographic characteristics of the intravenous drug abusers (IVDAs), drug-using patterns, and the epidemiology of HIV in the region. The data has been collected from interviews with 172 IVDAs and 81 sexual partners of IVDAs in Dayton and 118 IVDAs and 46 sexual partners in Columbus.

In both cities, males outnumber females in the sample of IVDAs and sexual partners; their median age is in the mid-30s. Blacks constitute the overwhelming majority of the sample in each city. While approximately one-third of the respondents were employed, between 36 and 55 percent of the IVDAs and sexual partners received some sort of public assistance and over 10 percent had illegal sources of income. Most respondents lived either with their spouse or sexual partner. Drug usage appeared to be heavier in the Dayton sample. The data suggests that the HIV epidemic in this region of Ohio is just beginning, as only 1.11 percent of the Dayton sample and 1.53 percent of the Columbus sample were HIV seropositive. In addition, IVDAs in both cities attempted to avoid sharing needles, a high AIDS-risk behavior; the "shooting gallery" location for drug use is not typical in the area. Because of their fear of AIDS, users reported their eagerness to obtain new needles or learn how to effectively clean used ones. IVDAs in both cities reported only infrequent travel to the cities most afflicted by the AIDS epidemic. However, some ethnographic data indicates that those IVDAs who use crack frequently may adopt different, more high risk behaviors. 4 tables, 7 references.

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