Factors influencing transition to injecting drug use among heroin users
May 7, 2006 - 3:57:37 PM

In a study reported in the current issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, scientists from the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) report on a study of street-recruited heroin users in New York City, who were not injecting, to determine the incidence and predictors of making a transition to injecting. Dr. Alan Neaigus and his colleagues examined the relationship of social network influence and current individual susceptibility on this transition.

The study followed several hundred non-injecting heroin users longitudinally in order to understand the risk factors for moving from the non-injected use of heroin to injection as a route of drug administration and the role of social network influences on that transition.

Understanding the factors involved in the initiation of injection as a route of drug administration among those individuals already using heroin is important to efforts to control the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The study found that the transition to injecting by non-injecting users of heroin is not universal and for some non-injecting heroin users evolves over a long time period. This is influenced by both individual characteristics as well as social network influence, providing multiple opportunities for intervention and prevention.

"This study provides significant advances in our understanding of the phenomena of heroin use and the factors that influence the transition to injecting as the mode of drug administration," noted Dr. Neaigus.

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