Injection prevalence and risks among male ethnic minority drug users in northern Thailand

E. W. Wiewel, V. F. Go, S. Kawichai, C. Beyrer, T. Vongchak, N. Srirak, J. Jittiwutitikarn, V. Suriyanon, M. H. Razak, David D. Celentano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thailand's rate of HIV due to drug use is increasing, and nearly one-half of clients at a drug treatment centre in the north are from marginalized ethnic minority groups. We describe and compare socio-demographics, drug use, and sexual practices across ethnic minority people presenting for treatment at the Northern Drug Treatment Center, Mae Rim, Thailand. A prevalence study was conducted between February 1999 and January 2000. Trained interviewers administered a baseline questionnaire to 1,865 people admitted to the Northern Drug Dependence Treatment Center. Ethnic minority (Karen, Akha, Hmong, Lisu, and Lahu) males were included in this analysis (n = 629). Between 7% and 28% of each minority group had ever injected drugs (p = 0.002). Ninety-five per cent of men ever injecting had used heroin. Younger age, speaking Thai language, having a job with higher contact with Thais, and prior drug detoxification were significantly associated with injection in multivariate analysis, while Hmong and Lisu ethnicity were protective. Using occupation and language as proxies, contact with Thais and concomitant acculturation may be a risk for injection among this population. The inadvertent consequences of acculturation as it relates to injection and HIV risk must be addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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