Indigenous Australians who inject drugs: results from a Brisbane study

Ann Larson, C. Shannon, C. Eldridge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Injecting drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people has recently generated considerable concern in communities and by public health services and planners. However, there has been almost no research on the use of illicit drugs by indigneous people. This study is the first step in filling this information gap. Through a process of extensive community consultation the important issues were identified and a culturally appropriate research method,vas developed. A questionnaire was administered by peer interviewers to 77 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who had injected an illegal drug in the past 12 months and who lived in the Brisbane metropolitan area. Speed is the most commonly injected drug but 56% had tried heroin and for about one-third of the sample it was the last drug injected. Sharing injecting equipment is common in this group,,vith 39% reporting that they had shared a needle in the past month; among participants under 20 years old the percentage rises to 63. Youth and/or inexperience is also associated,vith unsafe needle disposal and having never personally obtained injecting equipment from a chemist or needle exchange. There is widespread ignorance about safe procedures for cleaning needles. Knowledge about HIV/AIDS is not universal and less than one-quarter personally know someone living with HIV/AIDS; 67% rank their own chances of becoming infected with HIV as very low or low. The results have been used to develop programmes and strategies for harm reduction locally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-62
    JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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