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The relationship between age and risky injecting behaviours among a sample of Australian people who inject drugs

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 18:14 authored by Horyniak, D, Dietze, P, Degenhardt, L, Higgs, P, McIlwraith, F, Alati, R, Raimondo BrunoRaimondo Bruno, Lenton, S, Burns, L
Background: Limited evidence suggests that younger people who inject drugs (PWID) engage in high-risk injecting behaviours. This study aims to better understand the relationships between age and riskyinjecting behaviours.Methods: Data were taken from 11 years of a repeat cross-sectional study of sentinel samples of regularPWID (The Australian Illicit Drug Reporting System, 2001–2011). Multivariable Poisson regression wasused to explore the relationship between age and four outcomes of interest: last drug injection occurredin public, receptive needle sharing (past month), experiencing injecting-related problems (e.g. abscess,dirty hit; past month), and non-fatal heroin overdose (past six months).Results: Data from 6795 first-time study participants were analysed (median age: 33 years, interquar-tile range [IQR]: 27–40; median duration of injecting: 13 years [IQR: 7–20]). After adjusting for factorsincluding duration of injecting, each five year increase in age was associated with significant reductions inpublic injecting (adjusted incidence rate ratio [AIRR]: 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.88–0.92), nee-dle sharing (AIRR: 0.84, 95% CI: 0.79–0.89) and injecting-related problems (AIRR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.95–0.97).Among those who had injected heroin in the six months preceding interview, each five year increase inage was associated with an average 10% reduction in the risk of heroin overdose (AIRR: 0.90, 95% CI:0.85–0.96).Conclusions: Older PWID report significantly lower levels of high-risk injecting practices than youngerPWID. Although they make up a small proportion of the current PWID population, younger PWID remainan important group for prevention and harm reduction.


Department of Health and Aged Care


Publication title

Drug and Alcohol Dependence








School of Psychological Sciences


Elsevier Ireland Ltd

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2013 Published by Elsevier Ireland

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Socio-economic Objectives

Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified

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