Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Room: Exhibit Hall A
Ryan Herrschaft - Tulane University
Co-Author(s): Kimberly Gocchi Carrasco, Patrick Habecker, and Kirk Dombrowski University University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln NE
This study examined serosorting and social desirability effects on risk reporting among a sample of people who inject drugs (PWID) from rural Puerto Rico. Interviews collected information on the respondent (ego) and the attributes of those they inject with (alters), as well as the relationship between them (dyadic information). Only dyads in which both participants were interviewed were included for analysis (n=371). Using data on injection relationships, multilevel statistical modeling assessed if PWID engaged in serosorting. We defined serosorting as the extent to which PWID incorporated the HIV status of their partner into their decision to engage in a risk behavior with a partner. If serosorting were present, it was hypothesized that injection relationships in which the ego perceives that their alter is HIV negative would be associated with greater frequency of risky injection behaviors in that relationship compared to dyads where the ego does not know the alter’s HIV status. Contrary to this hypothesis, knowledge of injection partner’s status was not associated with changes in two known risk factors for HIV transmission: needle sharing and splitting a drug the same syringe. However, PWID were more likely to use a non-sterile needle with partners who’s status they did not know. These results suggest that PWID may reduce their risk of contracting HIV by opting to take the risk of re-using a non-sterile needle rather than sharing a needle. Depending on the prior usage of these non-sterile needles, this could be a non-conventional serosorting method. For example, if they are reusing their personal needle, this would prevent HIV transmission while putting them at greater risk for other adverse health outcomes. In a second phase of the study, the extent of how social desirability bias impacted the reporting of stigmatized risk behaviors was estimated. Using network data, systematic discrepancies in the behavior reporting among egos and alters were detected. Respondents were more likely to report injection relationships in which they were at a low risk of contracting HIV compared to relationships in which they were at a high risk of contracting HIV. Additionally, when PWID reported on their injection relationships, there was a small bias towards underreporting their participation in risky injection behaviors. Taken together, these data suggest that when reporting on risky behaviors, PWID underreport relationships in which they occupy a risky injection position; however, if both the ego and alter mention a relationship, they are largely congruous in their reporting of the risk behaviors within that relationship. Future researchers should explore methods (question design, sampling measures, and statistical methods) to adjust for underestimation of risk reporting that arises from the underreporting of asymmetric, risky dyadic relationships. Additionally, future research should study needle re-use as a serosorting technique.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This research was supported in part by NSF Grant SMA 1757739 'Social Network Analysis for Solving Minority Health Disparities' (PI: K Dombrowski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Research reported in this publication was also supported by the National Institute On Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DA037117. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation or the University of Nebraska.
Faculty Advisor: Kirk Dombrowski, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: I was responsible for the development of the research question, the preparation and analysis of the data, the interpretation of the results, and the creation of the poster and accompanying graphics. I was not involved in data colelction.