The association of gender with receptive and distributive needle sharing among individuals who inject drugs

Harm Reduct J. 2022 Sep 30;19(1):108. doi: 10.1186/s12954-022-00689-3.


Background: Injection drug use and needle sharing remains a public health concern due to the associated risk of HIV, HCV and skin and soft tissue infections. Studies have shown gendered differences in the risk environment of injection drug use, but data are currently limited to smaller urban cohorts.

Methods: To assess the relationship between gender and needle sharing, we analyzed publicly available data from the 2010-2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) datasets. Chi-square tests were conducted for descriptive analyses and multivariable logistic regression models were built adjusting for survey year, age, HIV status, and needle source.

Results: Among the entire sample, 19.8% reported receptive needle sharing, 18.8% reported distributive sharing of their last needle, and 37.0% reported reuse of their own needle during last injection. In comparison with men, women had 34% increased odds (OR 1.34, 95% CI 1.11-1.55) of receptive needle sharing and 67% increased odds (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.41-1.98) of distributive needle sharing. Reuse of one's own needle did not differ by gender.

Conclusions: In this nationally representative sample, we found that women are more likely in comparison with men to share needles both through receptive and distributive means. Expansion of interventions, including syringe service programs, to increase access to sterile injection equipment is of great importance.

Keywords: HIV prevention; Harm reduction; Injection drug use; Women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needle Sharing
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous* / epidemiology
  • Syringes