Objective Many people who use illicit drugs (PWUD) face challenges to their financial stability. Resulting activities that PWUD undertake to generate income may increase their vulnerability to violence. We therefore examined the relationship between income generation and exposure to violence across a wide range of income generating activities among HIV-positive and HIV-negative PWUD living in Vancouver, Canada.
Methods Data were derived from cohorts of HIV-seropositive and HIV-seronegative PWUD (n=1876) between December 2005 and November 2012. We estimated the relationship between different types of income generation and suffering physical or sexual violence using bivariate and multivariate generalised estimating equations, as well as the characteristics of violent interactions.
Results Exposure to violence was reported among 977 (52%) study participants over the study period. In multivariate models controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, mental health status, and drug use patterns, violence was independently and positively associated with participation in street-based income generation activities (ie, recycling, squeegeeing and panhandling; adjusted OR (AOR)=1.39, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.57), sex work (AOR=1.23, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.50), drug dealing (AOR=1.63, 95% CI 1.44 to 1.84), and theft and other acquisitive criminal activity (AOR=1.51, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.80). Engagement in regular, self-employment or temporary employment was not associated with being exposed to violence. Strangers were the most common perpetrators of violence (46.7%) and beatings the most common type of exposure (70.8%).
Conclusions These results suggest that economic activities expose individuals to contexts associated with social and structural vulnerability to violence. The creation of safe economic opportunities which can minimise vulnerability to violence among PWUD is therefore urgently required.
- SUBSTANCE ABUSE
- SOCIAL EPIDEMIOLOGY