In the US, the number of women diagnosed with AIDS continues to increase. In this study, women in New York City (East Harlem) and Miami, two sites with high rates of drug use and HIV infection, were first compared on sociodemographic variables and risk behaviors. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify significant, independent predictors of HIV infection in each city. In comparing women from the two cities, several differences in sociodemographic characteristics and drug use were observed. In both cities, ever exchanging sex for drugs and/or money was predictive of HIV infection; and in East Harlem only, other lifetime risk variables independently predicted HIV infection: drug injection, having a sexually transmitted disease, and not having graduated from high school. Results suggest that intervention efforts with women who exchange sex should be intensified in both cities. Also, further comparisons of women drug users in AIDS epicenter cities are necessary to provide information on similarities and differences in sociodemographic characteristics and individual risk behaviors. More research attention should be focused on examining the social context of HIV risk in order to develop innovative intervention strategies which focus on the link between contextual factors and HIV infection.
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