Gender differences in social network influence among injection drug users: perceived norms and needle sharing
Davey-Rothwell, M.A.; Latkin, C.A.
Journal of Urban Health Bulletin of the new York Academy of Medicine 84(5): 691-703
Whereas substantial research has linked perceived norms and HIV sexual risk behavior, less attention has been given to the relationship between perceived norms and injection drug practices. This study investigated the relationship between needle sharing and perceived norms in a sample of injection drug users. Data were collected through face-to-face interviews with 684 injectors from the STEP Into Action (STEP) project in Baltimore, Maryland. Logistic regression was used to assess the associations between perceived norms (descriptive and injunctive norms) and needle sharing. Results were stratified by gender. Descriptive norms were significantly related to needle sharing among males (AOR = 1.58, 95%CI = 1.20-2.40) and females (AOR = 1.78; 95%CI = 1.24-2.55). Whereas injunctive norms were significantly associated with needle sharing among men (AOR = 1.30 95%CI = 1.05-1.61), this association was not significant among women (AOR = 0.99; 95%CI = 0.74-1.31). These findings suggest the utility of peer education interventions that promote norms regarding risk reduction among injection drug users. The data also provide support for gender-specific HIV prevention interventions.