Syringe sharing is a high-risk practice associated with the transmission of infectious diseases, such as HIV and HCV. While youth who contend with housing instability are known to be more likely to engage in high-risk substance use, the potential relationship between being evicted from housing and syringe sharing has not been examined. This study assessed whether residential eviction was associated with syringe sharing among street-involved youth in Vancouver, Canada.
Data were derived from the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), a prospective cohort of street-involved youth who use drugs age 14–26 in Vancouver, Canada. The study period was June 2007 to May 2014, and the potential relationship between residential eviction and syringe sharing was analyzed using multivariable generalized estimating equations (GEE) logistic regression.
Among 405 street-involved youth who injected drugs, 149 (36.8%) reported syringe sharing, defined as borrowing or lending a syringe, at some point during the study period. In a multivariable GEE analysis, recent residential eviction remained independently associated with syringe sharing (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.72, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16–2.57), after adjusting for potential confounders.
Syringe sharing was significantly elevated among youth who had recently been evicted from housing. These findings indicate that policy and programmatic interventions that increase housing stability may help mitigate high-risk substance use practices among vulnerable youth.