Drug Injection-Related Norms and High-Risk Behaviors of People Who Inject Drugs in Athens, Greece

Andria Hadjikou, Ioanna D. Pavlopoulou, Katerina Pantavou, Andrea Georgiou, Leslie D. Williams, Eirini Christaki, Konstantinos Voskarides, Giagkos Lavranos, Demetris Lamnisos, Enrique R. Pouget, Samuel R. Friedman, Georgios K. Nikolopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Drug use involves social interactions. Therefore, norms in the proximal environment of people who inject drugs (PWID) can favor behaviors that may result in HIV transmission. This work aimed at studying drug injection-related norms and their potential association with risky behaviors among PWID in Athens, Greece, in the context of economic recession and political activism that followed the fiscal crisis and soon after a recent HIV outbreak had leveled off. The Transmission Reduction Intervention Project (TRIP) was a social network-based approach (June 2013 to July 2015) that involved two groups of PWID seeds-with recent HIV infection and with long-term HIV infection and one control group of HIV-negative PWID. Network contacts of seeds were also enrolled. TRIP participants answered a questionnaire that included items on injection-related norms and behaviors. TRIP recruited 320 PWID (HIV positive, 44.4%). TRIP participants, especially those without HIV, often recalled or perceived as normative among their partners and in their networks some behaviors that can lead to HIV transmission. TRIP participants who recalled that they were encouraged by their regular drug partners to use an unclean syringe were almost twice as likely to report that they share syringes [odds ratio (OR) = 2.03; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.86-2.21], or give syringes to someone else (OR = 1.70; 95% CI = 1.42-2.04) as those who did not recall such an encouragement. Associations were modified by HIV status. HIV negatives, who were reportedly encouraged to share nonsyringe injecting equipment, were almost 4.5 times as likely to share that material as HIV-negative participants who were not encouraged (OR = 4.59, 95% CI = 4.12-5.11). Further research is needed on the multiple determinants (social, economic, and political) of norms in the social environments of PWID. Since peer norms are associated with risky behaviors, interventions should be developed to encourage norms and peer pressure against the sharing of injection equipment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • behavior
  • HIV
  • norms
  • PWID
  • risk


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