Young people at risk of transitioning to injecting drug use in Sydney, Australia: social disadvantage and other correlates of higher levels of exposure to injecting Academic Article uri icon


  • While numerous studies have examined characteristics of young people who have recently initiated injecting, little attention has focused on young people who may be at high risk of transitioning to injecting. This study sought to examine the extent that socially disadvantaged young people were exposed to injecting, determine their level of hepatitis C (HCV) knowledge and identify correlates of higher injecting exposure. A cross-sectional survey was administered to 210 young people in 2010-2011 who were exposed to injecting drug use, but had not transitioned to injecting. Respondents were primarily recruited from youth services in metropolitan Sydney. Exposure to injecting in the previous 12 months was assessed with four items that examined whether close friends, romantic/sexual partners or family members/acquaintances injected drugs, and whether they were offered an injection. Most respondents had at least a few close friends who injected drugs (65%) and almost half had been offered drugs to inject in the previous 12 months (48%). It was less common for respondents to report having a partner who injects (11%). Correlates of higher injecting exposure were examined with multivariate ordinal regression. In the multivariate model, higher exposure to injecting was independently associated with the experience of abuse or violent crime [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.80] and reporting more favourable attitudes towards injecting (AOR = 0.86). Higher exposure to injecting was not independently associated with patterns or history of drug use. HCV knowledge was low to moderate and was not associated with higher exposure to injecting. That drug use was not independently associated with higher injecting exposure may suggest that exposure is shaped more by social disadvantage than by drug use patterns. Additional research is required to investigate this, using an improved measure of exposure to injecting.


  • Lea, T
  • Bryant, J
  • Ellard, J
  • Howard, J
  • Treloar, C

publication date

  • 2015