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Regular version of the site

Article

Taking care of themselves: how long-term injection drug users avoid HIV and Hepatitis C

Sociology of Health and Illness. 2015. Vol. 37. No. 4. P. 626-641.
Meylakhs P., Friedman S. R., Mateu-Gelabert P., Sandoval M., Meylakhs A.

Though prevalence of HIV and especially Hepatitis C is high among injection drug users (IDUs) in New York, about a third of those who have injected for 8 – 15 years have avoided infection by either virus despite their long-term drug use. Based on life history interviews with 35 long-term IDUs in New York, this paper seeks to show how successful integration and performance of various drug using and non-drug using roles may have contributed to some of these IDUs’ staying uninfected with either virus. We argue that analysis of non-risk related aspects of the lives of the risk-takers (IDUs) is very important in understanding their risk-taking behavior and its outcomes (infection statuses). Drawing on work-related, social, and institutional resources, our double-negative informants underwent both periods of stability and turmoil without getting infected.