Examining risk behavior and syringe coverage among people who inject drugs accessing a syringe services program: A latent class analysis

Tyler S. Bartholomew, Hansel E. Tookes, Corinne Bullock, Jason Onugha, David W. Forrest, Daniel J. Feaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Introduction: Injection drug use (IDU) remains a significant public health problem. IDU has been associated closely with the opioid crisis; driving overdose, HIV, and Hepatitis C (HCV) infection nationwide. Syringe services programs (SSPs) remain pivotal evidence-based interventions to reduce harm and engage subgroups of people who inject drugs (PWID). This study aims to provide policy considerations from the IDEA SSP, the first legal SSP in the state of Florida. Methods: We performed a latent class analysis on patterns of substance use among participants (N = 982) newly enrolled in a syringe services program (SSP). Associations between classes of substance use and sociodemographic variables, risky injection and sex behaviors, HIV/HCV status and syringe coverage were analyzed using the R3STEP and BCH 3-step procedures in latent class regression. Results: We found a three-class solution: Heroin-Dominant class (73.9%), Methamphetamine-Dominant class (9.5%) and Heroin/Cocaine class (16.6%). Compared to Heroin-Dominant class, the Heroin/Cocaine class were more likely to report homelessness, sharing works, unprotected sex, public injection, and to be HCV positive. Compared to both Heroin-Dominant and Heroin/Cocaine classes, the Methamphetamine-Dominant class were more likely to be male, Hispanic, gay or bisexual orientation, HIV positive, to report unprotected sex and sex with PWID. In addition, the lowest and highest syringe coverage were among those in the Heroin/Cocaine and Methamphetamine-Dominant classes, respectively. Conclusion: Existing interventions among this population to mitigate infectious disease risk, such as SSPs, can be a used to engage differing PWID populations. However, multi-component, targeted preventive interventions and need-based syringe distribution policies are required to further reduce HIV and HCV risk among various PWID populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102716
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Drug Policy
  • HCV
  • HIV prevention
  • Substance use
  • Syringe Services Program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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