Syringe exchange not associated with social network formation: results from Baltimore

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Abstract

Objective

To examine possible formation of new social contacts at the Baltimore Syringe Exchange Program (SEP).

Design

Systematic sub-sample of new SEP participants recruited into evaluation cohort for biannual interviews. This analysis used 6-month interview data.

Methods

Participants were interviewed for behavioral and network characteristics, and number of new social contacts formed at the SEP. Variables were cross-tabulated using χ2 statistics.

Results

Of 413 participants interviewed, 32 (8%) said they had made at least one social contact at the SEP. These 32 individuals were more likely to have engaged in commercial sex (16 versus 3%, P = 0.005) and, among active injectors, were more likely to have used syringes obtained from other drug users (22 versus 8%, P = 0.026).

Conclusions

Findings argue against the formation of new social networks (and therefore new disease transmission networks) in the context of syringe exchange participation.

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