Perceptions of genetic testing and genomic medicine among drug users

David C. Perlman, Camila Gelpí-Acosta, Samuel R. Friedman, Ashly E. Jordan, Holly Hagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Genetic testing will soon enter care for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), and for addiction. There is a paucity of data on how to disseminate genetic testing into healthcare for marginalized populations. We explored drug users' perceptions of genetic testing. Methods: Six focus groups were conducted with 34 drug users recruited from syringe exchange programmes and an HIV clinic between May and June 2012. Individual interviews were conducted with participants reporting previous genetic testing. Results: All participants expressed acceptance of genetic testing to improve care, but most had concerns regarding confidentiality and implications for law enforcement. Most expressed more comfort with genetic testing based on individual considerations rather than testing based on race/ethnicity. Participants expressed comfort with genetic testing in medical care rather than drug treatment settings and when specifically asked permission, with peer support, and given a clear rationale. Conclusion: Although participants understood the potential value of genetic testing, concerns regarding breaches in confidentiality and discrimination may reduce testing willingness. Safeguards against these risks, peer support, and testing in medical settings based on individual factors and with clear rationales provided may be critical in efforts to promote acceptance of genetic testing among drug users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Drug users
  • Genetic testing
  • HCV
  • HIV
  • Perceptions
  • Racial/ethnic minorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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