High-risk drug-use practices among a large sample of Australian prisoners

Stuart Kinner, Rebecca Anne Jenkinson, Maelenn Gouillou, M-J Milloy

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Drug injection in prison is associated with a high risk of transmission of blood-borne pathogens including hepatitis C (HCV). The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence and identify independent correlates of recent in-prison injecting drug use (P-IDU) among a large sample of adult prisoners in Queensland, Australia. Methods: Confidential, structured interviews with 1,322 adult prisoners in Queensland, Australia. Prevalence estimates were corrected for sampling bias using inverse probability weighting. Independent correlates of recent P-IDU were identified using multivariable Poisson regression with backwards elimination. Results: We estimated that among all adult prisoners in Queensland, Australia, the prevalence of lifetime IDU was 55.1 , of lifetime P-IDU 23.0 , and of recent (during current sentence) P-IDU 13.2 . Significant, independent correlates of recent P-IDU included male gender (ARR = 3.07, 95 CI 1.83?5.12), being unemployed prior to incarceration (ARR = 1.34, 95 CI 1.01?1.76), use of three or more drug types prior to incarceration (ARR = 1.80, 95 CI 1.40?2.31), a history of needle/ syringe sharing (ARR = 5.00, 95 CI 3.06?8.16), receiving a tattoo during the current prison sentence (ARR = 2.19, 95 CI 1.67?2.86) and HCV exposure (ARR = 1.47, 95 CI 1.08?2.02). Older age was protective (ARR = 0.90 per 5 years older, 95 CI 0.83?0.99). Conclusion: Drug injection in prison is common and, given the associations between in-prison drug injection and syringe sharing, unsafe tattooing and HCV exposure, poses a risk to both prisoner health and public health. There remains an urgent need to implement evidence-based infection control measures, including needle and syringe programs, within prison settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156 - 160
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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