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HIV risk among Puerto Rican drug users in Puerto Rico and New York: Results of a comparative study indicating an urgent need for enhanced services in Puerto Rico

Sherry Deren, PhD1, Héctor M. Colón, PhD2, Sung-Yeon Kang, PhD1, Rafaela R. Robles, EdD2, Jonny Andia, PhD1, Denise Oliver-Velez, PhD Candidate3, and H. Ann Finlinson, PhD2. (1) National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., 71 West 23rd Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, 212-845-4463, Deren@NDRI.org, (2) Center for Addiction Studies, School of Medicine, Universidad Central del Caribe, PO Box 60327, Bayamón, PR 00960-6032, (3) State University of New York, New Paltz, 1942 Route 32, Saugerties, NY 12477

Background: Puerto Rican drug users have been found to be at high risk of HIV. A longitudinal study in two risk environments- East Harlem, New York (EH) and Bayamon, San Juan (SJ) - examined site differences in HIV risk behaviors, health care utilization and HIV seroincidence. This paper provides a summary of key findings. Methods: 1199 Puerto Rican drug users (injection drug users[IDUs] and crack smokers) were recruited from EH(n=800) and SJ(n=399). Baseline and follow-up data (at 6, 36 and 42 months follow-up) were collected on demographics, risk behaviors, use of health services and HIV status. Results: %male: 79% SJ, 73% NY, mean age: 33 SJ, 38 NY. Risk behaviors were higher in SJ (20% of IDUs used others’ needles compared with 7% in EH), and use of HIV prevention services (including drug treatment) were lower (5% in SJ were in methadone treatment compared with 63% in EH). HIV seroincidence rates were 4 times higher in SJ: 3.37 vs .88/100pyr. Predictors of seroconversion differed by site: In SJ, use of shooting galleries and age (younger) were related to seroconversion, and methadone Tx was protective against seroconverting; in EH, crack use was related to seroconversion (all significant at p<.05 or less). Conclusions: In SJ, higher HIV risk behaviors, lower availability of HIV prevention programs and higher seroincidence indicate an urgent need for enhanced services, especially for IDUs. In New York, other drug-related risks, e.g., crack use and sexual risks, require increased intervention efforts.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant will be able to

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, Hispanic

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Health Care Delivery, Services, and Providers

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA