Impact of cumulative incarceration and the post-release period on syringe-sharing among people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico: a longitudinal analysis

Addiction. 2021 Oct;116(10):2724-2733. doi: 10.1111/add.15445. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Background and aims: Syringe-sharing among people who inject drugs, which can occur during incarceration and post-release, has been linked with increased risk of blood-borne infections. We aimed to investigate the cumulative effect of repeated incarceration and the post-release period on receptive syringe-sharing.

Design: Ongoing community-based cohort, recruited through targeted sampling between 2011 and 2012 with 6-month follow-ups.

Setting: Tijuana, Mexico.

Participants: Sample of 185 participants (median age 35 years; 67% female) with no history of incarceration at study entry, followed to 2017.

Measurements: Cumulative incarceration and post-release period were constructed from incarceration events reported in the past 6 months for each study visit. Receptive syringe-sharing in the past 6 months was assessed as a binary variable. We used logistic regression with generalized estimating equations to examine the association between cumulative incarceration events and the post-release period with receptive syringe-sharing over time. Missing data were handled through multiple imputation.

Findings: At baseline, 65% of participants engaged in receptive syringe-sharing in the prior 6 months. At follow-up, 150 (81%) participants experienced a total of 358 incarceration events [median = 2, interquartile range (IQR) = 1-3]. The risk of receptive syringe-sharing increased with the number of repeated incarcerations. Compared with never incarcerated, those with one incarceration had 1.28 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.97-1.68] higher adjusted odds of syringe-sharing; two to three incarcerations, 1.42 (95% CI = 1.02-1.99) and more than three incarcerations, 2.10 (95% CI = 1.15-3.85). Participants released within the past 6 months had 1.53 (95% CI = 1.14-2.05) higher odds of sharing syringes compared with those never incarcerated. This post-release risk continued up to 1.5 years post-incarceration (adjusted odds ratio = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.04-1.91), but then waned.

Conclusions: A longitudinal community cohort study among people who inject drugs suggested that the effects of incarceration on increased injecting risk, measured through syringe-sharing, are cumulative and persist during the post-release period.

Keywords: Cumulative incarceration; PWID; Tijuana; longitudinal; multiple imputation; post-release; re-entry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Needle Sharing
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous* / epidemiology
  • Syringes


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations