Background: This study examined racial differences in the prevalence of sexual risk behaviors and their associations with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among recent heroin-using and cocaine-using women. Methods: Participants were 214 women (59% black, 41% white) who were recruited during 2002-2010 using targeted sampling to participate in a study in Baltimore, Maryland, and reported using heroin, cocaine, or crack during the previous 6 months. Participants completed self-report questionnaires about their drug use, sexual risk behaviors, and lifetime history of one of six STDs, including gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, or trichomoniasis. Results: More black women (50%) than white women (28%) reported a lifetime STD. Although there were no racial differences in the lifetime prevalence of sexual risk behaviors assessed, there were racial differences in the sexual behaviors associated with ever having a lifetime STD. Simple logistic regressions revealed that ever having a casual sex partner or anal sex were correlates of having a lifetime STD among black women but not among white women. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that ever having a casual sex partner was significantly associated with having a lifetime STD among black women, and ever trading sex for money was significantly associated with having a lifetime STD among white women. Conclusions: Findings are consistent with national studies and elucidate racial disparities in STDs and associated sexual behaviors among recent heroin-using and cocaine-using women. Findings underscore the need to tailor STD prevention interventions differently for black and white recent heroin-using and cocaine-using women.
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