Factors associated with injury and blood-borne infection risk when providing assisted injection among people who inject drugs

Rachel Carmen Ceasar, Jesse L. Goldshear, Sarah Brothers, Lynn D. Wenger, Alex H. Kral, Ricky N. Bluthenthal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Prior research has associated assisted injection with risk behaviors, but other risks such as injury, missed veins, and incidental exposures to blood-borne infections during an injection episode have not been assessed. In the following, we present the frequency of these other risks and determine factors associated with missing a vein and incidental blood exposure among people who inject drugs (PWID). Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of data from PWID who were recruited using targeted sampling in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, during 2016 and 2017. The analytic sample consist of 336 participants who reported providing injection assistance in the last 6 months. Multivariate logistic regression models were developed for reporting the following risks: missing a vein; getting the recipient's blood on the injection provider; and getting blood on clothes or surfaces. Results: In the last 6 months, the most common negative consequences were getting blood on clothes or surfaces (40%), getting the recipient's blood on the injection provider (23%), and missing a vein (17%). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, missing the vein was significantly associated with higher odds of assisting a leg injection while getting the injection recipient's blood on the provider or getting blood on clothes or nearby surfaces was associated with higher odds of assisting a groin injection injecting in the groin. Conclusion: Providing injection assistance can result in incidental blood exposures and injury, particularly when injecting in sensitive locations on the body. Harm reduction interventions to reduce risks associated with this practice are essential to improving the well-being of PWID.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103297
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy

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