Background: On a macrosocial level, neighborhood characteristics have been found to be associated with the prevalence of HIV and other bloodborne and sexually transmitted infections. The current study used structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between neighborhood social and physical disorder and high-risk sexual partners. Methods: A cohort (N=838) recruited for an HIV prevention study of drug users (2002-2004) in Baltimore, Maryland, was interviewed about their neighborhood characteristics, drug use, depressive symptoms (using the Centers for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale), and HIV/sexually transmitted infection risk behaviors of exchanging sex for money or drugs, having multiple sexual partners, and having partners who injected drugs or smoked crack cocaine. Data were analyzed in February 2005. Results: Model fit statistics from Mplus (Muthen & Muthen, Los Angeles CA, 2004) indicated statistically significant direct associations between neighborhood disorder and psychologic distress, neighborhood disorder and sexual risk behaviors, and neighborhood disorder and drug use. There were also significant indirect associations of neighborhood disorder on sexual risk behaviors. Conclusions: These results highlight the importance of viewing drug use, chronic stress, depression and hopelessness, and infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C as interlinked epidemics that are fostered by neighborhood social and physical disorder. Neighborhood, network, and community level interventions are needed to address these intertwined public health issues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health