Background: The Mexico-U.S. border region is experiencing rising rates of blood-borne infections among injection drug users (IDUs), emphasizing the need for harm reduction interventions. Methods: We assessed the religious and cultural factors affecting the acceptability and feasibility of three harm reduction interventions - Needle exchange programs (NEPs), syringe vending machines, and safer injection facilities (SIFs) - in Tijuana, Mexico. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 40 community stakeholders to explore cultural and societal-related themes. Results: Themes that emerged included Tijuana's location as a border city, family values, and culture as a mediator of social stigma and empathy towards IDUs. Perception of low levels of both awareness and socio-cultural readiness for harm reduction interventions was noted. Religious culture emerged as a theme, highlighting the important role religious leaders play in determining community responses to harm reduction and rehabilitation strategies for IDUs. The influence of religious culture on stakeholders' opinions concerning harm reduction interventions was evidenced by discussions of family and social values, stigma, and resulting policies. Conclusion: Religion and politics were described as both a perceived benefit and deterrent, highlighting the need to further explore the overall influences of culture on the acceptability and implementation of harm reduction programs for drug users.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health