Income inequality, drug-related arrests, and the health of people who inject drugs: Reflections on seventeen years of research

Samuel R. Friedman, Barbara Tempalski, Joanne E. Brady, Brooke S. West, Enrique R. Pouget, Leslie D. Williams, Don C. Des Jarlais, Hannah L.F. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

This paper reviews and then discusses selected findings from a seventeen year study about the population prevalence of people who inject drugs (PWID) and of HIV prevalence and mortality among PWID in 96 large US metropolitan areas. Unlike most research, this study was conducted with the metropolitan area as the level of analysis. It found that metropolitan area measures of income inequality and of structural racism predicted all of these outcomes, and that rates of arrest for heroin and/or cocaine predicted HIV prevalence and mortality but did not predict changes in PWID population prevalence. Income inequality and measures of structural racism were associated with hard drug arrests or other properties of policing. These findings, whose limitations and implications for further research are discussed, suggest that efforts to respond to HIV and to drug injection should include supra-individual efforts to reduce both income inequality and racism. At a time when major social movements in many countries are trying to reduce inequality, racism and oppression (including reforming drug laws), these macro-social issues in public health should be both addressable and a priority in both research and action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Drug law reform
  • Drug-related arrests
  • HIV
  • Health
  • Income inequality
  • Macro-social
  • People who inject drugs
  • Racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Income inequality, drug-related arrests, and the health of people who inject drugs: Reflections on seventeen years of research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this