Factors Influencing Condom Use Among Heterosexual Users of Injection Drugs and Crack Cocaine

Document Type


Publication Date



OBJECTIVES: To study factors that influence the self-reported use of condoms among injection drug users and crack smokers.

STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional design was used to collect data from drug-using heterosexual men (n = 247) and women (n = 107).

RESULTS: Participants were largely African American (79.4%), male (69.8%), and unmarried (90.1%). The mean age for men was 39.9 years, 35.5 years for women. Drug user groups consisted of individuals who used both crack cocaine and injection drugs (40.1%), noninjecting crack smokers (33.1%), and non-crack-smoking injection drug users (26.8%). Daily injection drug or crack use was reported by 62.9% of the sample. One third of the sample reported recent vaginal sex with more than one partner. More than 70% of the participants frequently used drugs when having sex. Logistic regression showed that individuals who were high when having vaginal sex were less likely to use condoms than people who were not high (odds ratio [OR] 0.82; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68-0.99); individuals whose partners got high when having sex were more likely to report condom use (OR 1.20; 95% CI, 1.01-1.42); individuals were less likely to use condoms when having sex with a main partner (OR 0.40; 95% CI, 0.20-0.80); individuals who believed it was important to use condoms were more likely to use condoms (beta = 0.57, P < 0.00); and people who believed condoms reduced sexual pleasure were less likely to use condoms (beta = -0.53, P < 0.00).

CONCLUSIONS: In addition to being sensitive to partner characteristics, sex risk-reduction interventions targeting users of injection drugs or crack must address the widespread use of psychoactive drugs that occurs immediately before and during sex because such use presents a significant impediment to the employment of safer-sex techniques that rely on condoms. Until such interventions are in place, access to drug abuse treatment is a critical dimension of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted disease prevention.

Catalog Record