A qualitative exploration of gender in the context of injection drug use in two US-Mexico border cities

Michelle Firestone Cruz, Andrea Mantsios, Rebeca Ramos, Patricia Case, Kimberly C. Brouwer, Maria Elena Ramos, Wendy Davila Fraga, Carl A. Latkin, Cari L. Miller, Steffanie A. Strathdee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Injection drug use is of increasing concern along the U.S.-Mexico border where Tijuana and Ciudad (Cd.) Juarez are located. We conducted a qualitative study to explore the context of drug use, with a focus on gender differences. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 male and 10 female injection drug users (IDUs) in Tijuana and 15 male and 8 female IDUs in Cd. Juarez. Topics included types of drugs used, injection settings, access to sterile needles and environmental influences. Interviews were taped, transcribed and translated. Content analysis was conducted to identify themes. Several themes emerged with respect to gender: (a) how drugs were obtained; (b) where drugs were used; (c) relationship dynamics surrounding drug use; and (d) sex in exchange for money or drugs. Men reported buying and injecting in shooting galleries and other locations, whereas women tended to buy and inject drugs with people they knew and trusted. All men reported having shared syringes in shooting galleries, often with strangers. In these two cities, venue-based interventions may be more appropriate for male IDUs, whereas personal network interventions may be more appropriate among female IDUs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS and behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Gender
  • Injection drug use
  • Mexico
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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