Table of Contents
ISRN Addiction
Volume 2013, Article ID 289012, 9 pages
Research Article

Control over Drug Acquisition, Preparation, and Injection: Implications for HIV and HCV Risk among Young Female Injection Drug Users

1Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0849, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
2Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 4650 Sunset Boulevard, MS 2, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
3Department of Nursing, Psychiatry, New York University Langone Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA
4School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics, California State University, Los Angeles, 5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA
5Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel University School of Public Health, 1505 Race Street, Bellet Building, Philadelphia, PA 19102-1192, USA

Received 31 March 2013; Accepted 12 May 2013

Academic Editors: A. Benvenuti, J. Copeland, B. J. Kinon, and P. Mannelli

Copyright © 2013 Karla D. Wagner et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Young female injection drug users (IDUs) are at risk for HIV/HCV, and initiating the use of a new drug may confer additional and unexpected risks. While gender differences in the social context of injection drug use have been identified, it is unknown whether those differences persist during the initiation of a new drug. This mixed-methods study examined the accounts of 30 young female IDUs in Los Angeles, CA, USA from 2004 to 2006, who described the social context of initiating injection drug use and initiating ketamine injection. The analysis aimed to understand how the social context of young women’s injection events contributes to HIV/HCV risk. Women’s initiation into ketamine injection occurred approximately 2 years after their first injection of any drug. Over that time, women experienced changes in some aspects of the social context of drug injection, including the size and composition of the using group. A significant proportion of women described injection events characterized by a lack of control over the acquisition, preparation, and injection of drugs, as well as reliance on friends and sexual partners. Findings suggest that lack of control over drug acquisition, preparation, and injection may elevate women’s risk; these phenomena should be considered as a behavioral risk factor when designing interventions.