Syringe access, syringe sharing, and police encounters among people who inject drugs in New York city: A community-level perspective

Leo Beletsky, Daliah Heller, Samuel M. Jenness, Alan Neaigus, Camila Gelpi-Acosta, Holly Hagan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Injection drug user (IDU) experience and perceptions of police practices may alter syringe exchange program (SEP) use or influence risky behaviour. Previously, no community-level data had been collected to identify the prevalence or correlates of police encounters reported by IDUs in the United States. Methods: New York City IDUs recruited through respondent-driven sampling were asked about past-year police encounters and risk behaviours, as part of the National HIV Behavioural Surveillance study. Data were analysed using multiple logistic regression. Results: A majority (52%) of respondents (n=514) reported being stopped by police officers; 10% reported syringe confiscation. In multivariate modelling, IDUs reporting police stops were less likely to use SEPs consistently (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.40-0.89), and IDUs who had syringes confiscated may have been more likely to share syringes (AOR=1.76; 95% CI=0.90-3.44), though the finding did not reach statistical significance. Conclusions: Findings suggest that police encounters may influence consistent SEP use. The frequency of IDU-police encounters highlights the importance of including contextual and structural measures in infectious disease risk surveillance, and the need to develop approaches harmonizing structural policing and public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-111
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2014

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • Injection drug use
  • Policing
  • Public health surveillance
  • Structural factors
  • Syringe exchange programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

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