187287 HIV risk among women who inject methamphetamine

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 11:30 AM

Alison Hamilton, PhD , Department of Psychiatry and School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
HIV risk behaviors among women who inject methamphetamine (“meth”) have not been widely studied. Many inferences are made about women meth injectors based on studies of male meth injectors and women who inject other drugs. While many of these inferences are compelling, more substantive data is needed on women's behaviors within the context of injection meth use. This study provides data from an in-depth qualitative study of 30 women who were in residential treatment for meth dependence. The average age of these women was 28.5 years; 56% are Latina, 30% are white, 7% are American Indian, and 7% are mixed race/ethnicity. Of the 30 women, six were chronic injectors, though a total of 10 women had used needles at some point during their drug careers. The six women who exclusively injected meth engaged in multiple HIV risk behaviors, including sharing needles, having unprotected sex, having sex with multiple partners, having sex with other injectors, and injecting meth while pregnant. None self-reported being HIV-positive. All were “grateful” that they had not become infected, and all spontaneously acknowledged that they were “reckless” and generally far more concerned about maintaining their high than worrying about becoming infected. Injection use was intimately tied to sexual experiences, with a glorification for 4 of the 6 of the combination of the injected meth high and intensity of sexual encounters. Two women found that their desire for sex was decreased once they began injecting meth, because this form of use produced a feeling “better than sex.”

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the range of HIV risk behaviors in which women engage while dependent upon methamphetamine. 2. Articulate the qualitative associations that women make between methamphetamine injection behaviors and sexual risk behaviors.

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, Drug Addiction

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am PI of the project and personally conducted the research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.