142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Demographic and Behavioral Risk Profile of Injection Drug Using Subgroups in New Orleans

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Narquis Barak, MA , Department of Prevention, NO/AIDS Task Force, New Orleans, LA
William T. Robinson, PhD , Evaluation Unit, Department of Health and Hospitals Louisiana Office of Public Health STD/HIV Program, New Orleans, LA
Kiva Fisher, MPH , Department of Prevention, NO/AIDS Task Force, New Orleans, LA
Meagan C. Zarwell, MA , School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, SC

Injection drug users (IDU) account for 9% of new HIV cases in the U.S. and are at high risk for Hepatitis C (HCV). While IDU studies often highlight risk factors for transmission, few studies have examined intra-population differences within one geographic location.


As part of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance in New Orleans, qualitative and quantitative data were collected among IDU in 2012. In total 50+ hours of observation, 64 semi-structured interviews, 2 focus groups, 482 in-depth surveys, and 471 HIV/HCV tests were conducted.


Qualitative findings revealed distinct subgroups divided along lines of race, age, and history of homelessness. High risk subgroups included young White injectors facing harsh living conditions that complicate safe injection and young African Americans- a burgeoning subpopulation of IDU since the expansion of heroin markets post-Katrina.

Quantitative data showed 9.2% HIV positivity, among which older African Americans had the highest (14%). HCV was prevalent (55%), but did not significantly differ across subgroups. However, differences in risk factors and behaviors were related to subgroup membership. For example, young Whites with a history of homelessness reported higher syringe (91.5%) and equipment sharing behavior (83.6%), while young African Americans had high frequency of injection.


IDU in New Orleans are not a homogeneous population. Risks relevant to one subgroup may not reflect the risks of another. Identification of IDU subgroups and social and behavioral variation among them is a crucial step in developing effective HIV and HCV prevention programs.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify distinct subgroups among the injection drug use population in New Orleans. Differentiate social, demographic, and behavioral risk factors among these subgroups. Discuss HIV and HCV prevention priorities for each subgroup.

Keyword(s): Behavioral Research, HIV Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been Project Coordinator of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) in New Orleans for over five years. I have been researching and conducting HIV and HCV counseling with the injection drug using population in New Orleans since 2009. I completed all my doctoral coursework and was a doctoral candidate at Harvard University, in Social Anthropology with a focus on psychiatric/medical anthropology.
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.

Back to: 5057.0: Substance Use and HIV/AIDS