UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Crack Pipe Sharing Among Street-Involved Youth in a Canadian Setting Cheng, Tessa; Wood, Evan; Nguyen, Paul; Montaner, Julio; Kerr, Thomas; DeBeck, Kora


Introduction and Aims Crack pipe sharing is a risky practice that has been associated with the transmission of Hepatitis C and other harms. While previous research has exclusively focused on this phenomenon among adults, this study examines crack pipe sharing among street-involved youth. Design and Methods From May 2006 to May 2012, data were collected from the At-Risk Youth Study, a cohort of street-involved youth age 14–26 in Vancouver, Canada. Survey data from active crack smokers were analysed using generalised estimating equations logistic regression. Results Over the study period, 567 youth reported smoking crack cocaine and contributed 1288 observations, among which 961 (75%) included a report of crack pipe sharing. In multivariate analysis, factors that were associated with crack pipe sharing included: difficulty accessing crack pipes (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] =1.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13–2.20); homelessness (AOR =1.87, 95%CI 1.43–2.44); regular employment (AOR =1.53, 95%CI 1.15–2.04); daily non-injection crystal methamphetamine use (AOR =2.04, 95%CI 1.11–3.75); daily crack smoking (AOR =1.37, 95%CI 1.01–1.85); encounters with the police (AOR =1.42, 95%CI 1.01–1.99); and reporting unprotected sex (AOR =1.95, 95%CI 1.47–2.58). Discussion and Conclusions The prevalence of crack pipe sharing was high among our sample and independently associated with structural factors including difficulty accessing crack pipes and homelessness. Crack pipe sharing was also associated with high intensity drug use and a number of other markers of risk and vulnerability. Collectively, these findings highlight opportunities for health services to better engage with this vulnerable group and reduce this risky behaviour.

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