Type of substance use and access to HIV-related health care

Chinazo O. Cunningham, Nancy L. Sohler, Karina M. Berg, Scott Shapiro, Daliah Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


HIV-infected substance users have poorer health outcomes than other HIV risk groups. Few studies have examined the impact of specific types of substance use on health care. This study investigated the associations between specific types of substances of abuse and access to health care. HIV-infected individuals living in eight different single room occupancy hotels in the Bronx, New York, were interviewed between August 1999 and February 2001 regarding demographics, health care access and utilization, and drug and alcohol use. Of the 238 participants, the majority were male (59%), black or Hispanic (93%), and active drug users (61%). Individuals reporting any drug or crack/cocaine use were less likely to have a regular provider than those reporting no drug or no crack/cocaine use (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.50, p = 0.05; AOR = 0.35, p = 0.004, respectively), while those with binge alcohol use were more likely to have a regular doctor than those without binge alcohol use (AOR = 2.61, p = 0.05). Individuals reporting any drug or crack/cocaine use were also less likely to perceive quality of health care positively (AOR = 0.50, p = 0.02; AOR = 0.37, p = 0.002, respectively). Heroin use, and injection drug use were not associated with these outcomes. When the sample was limited to recent drug users, similar patterns were found. Although drug use in general is associated with negative health outcomes, in this study, poorer measures of access to health care among substance users was associated predominantly with crack/cocaine use. It is important that clinicians and researchers working with substance-using populations understand how specific types of substance use differentially impact on health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-407
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Patient Care and STDs
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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