"What the 'caine was tellin' me to do." Crack users' risk of HIV: an exploratory study of female inmates.

S. G. Sherman, A. Steckler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study describes factors that place crack-addicted female jail inmates at risk for HIV infection. The study provides a portrait of the spheres of influences that directly and indirectly promote HIV risk-taking behaviors, women's efforts toward protecting themselves, and reported sexual behaviors. The study documents the far-reaching effects of crack addiction. One-and-a-half-hour interviews were conducted with 14 inmates recovering from crack addiction. The women were aged 19 to 39, and 13 were African American. The results of this study suggest that women's addictions are greatly shaped by their family and intimate relationships. Addictive behavior often precluded safer sex behaviors and increased a woman's likelihood of engagement in HIV-risky behaviors. Many women were victims of childhood and adulthood sexual and physical victimization. Women sought to protect themselves through sexual self-protection strategies, although these measures were often not effective HIV risk-reduction strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-134
Number of pages18
JournalWomen's health (Hillsdale, N.J.)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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