High-Risk Behaviors for Transmission of Syphilis and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Among Crack Cocaine-Using Women: A Case Study from the Midwest

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This study examines the drug use patterns, sexual practices, condom use, knowledge and attitudes toward sexually transmitted diseases (STD)s and AIDS, and seroprevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis among women who use crack in Dayton, Ohio. In 1990, two indigenous outreach workers recruited 150 participants who were not in drug treatment programs, who were 18 years of age or older, and had used crack in the previous 3 months. Structured interviews revealed that 90% of the sample were black, 78% used crack "daily," 93% had multiple sexual partners, and 49% had 10 or more male sexual partners in the last 3 months. A majority (67%) of the women felt they were in need of drug treatment. No reactive syphilis serologies were detected in 138 serum samples; 2 women (1.4%) were HIV seropositive. This case study provides insight into the high-risk sexual behaviors of crack users in a medium-sized, midwestern city. The study demonstrates the value of indigenous outreach prevention and STD screening initiatives in reaching this segment of our society, which has a high risk of acquiring STDs.

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