Syringe Access, Syringe Sharing, and Police Encounters Among People Who Inject Drugs in New York City: A Community-Level Perspective

International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 105-111, 2014

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 178-2014

Posted: 23 Mar 2014  

Leo Beletsky

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences

Daliah Heller

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Samuel M. Jenness

University of Washington - School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Alan Neaigus

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Camila Gelpi-Acosta

National Development and Research Institutes

Holly Hagan

New York University (NYU) - College of Nursing

Date Written: January 1, 2014

Abstract

Background: Injection drug user (IDU) experience and perceptions of police practices may alter syringe exchange program (SEP) use or influence risky behaviour. Previously, no community-level data had been collected to identify the prevalence or correlates of police encounters reported by IDUs in the United States.

Methods: New York City IDUs recruited through respondent-driven sampling were asked about past-year police encounters and risk behaviours, as part of the National HIV Behavioural Surveillance study. Data were analysed using multiple logistic regression.

Results: A majority (52%) of respondents (n = 514) reported being stopped by police officers; 10% reported syringe confiscation. In multivariate modelling, IDUs reporting police stops were less likely to use SEPs consistently (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.40-0.89), and IDUs who had syringes confiscated may have been more likely to share syringes (AOR = 1.76; 95% CI = 0.90-3.44), though the finding did not reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that police encounters may influence consistent SEP use. The frequency of IDU-police encounters highlights the importance of including contextual and structural measures in infectious disease risk surveillance, and the need to develop approaches harmonizing structural policing and public health.

Keywords: Injection drug use; Syringe exchange programs; Barriers; Policing; Structural factors; Public health surveillance

Suggested Citation

Beletsky, Leo and Heller, Daliah and Jenness, Samuel M. and Neaigus, Alan and Gelpi-Acosta, Camila and Hagan, Holly, Syringe Access, Syringe Sharing, and Police Encounters Among People Who Inject Drugs in New York City: A Community-Level Perspective (January 1, 2014). International Journal of Drug Policy, Vol. 25, Issue 1, pp. 105-111, 2014; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 178-2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2412101

Leo Beletsky (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences ( email )

400 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-5540 (Phone)

Daliah Heller

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ( email )

New York City, NY
United States

Samuel M. Jenness

University of Washington - School of Public Health and Community Medicine ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

Alan Neaigus

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene ( email )

New York City, NY
United States

Camila Gelpi-Acosta

National Development and Research Institutes ( email )

71 West 23rd Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10010
United States

Holly Hagan

New York University (NYU) - College of Nursing ( email )

726 Broadway, 10th Floor
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
United States

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