Impact of cumulative incarceration and the post-release period on syringe-sharing among people who inject drugs in Tijuana, Mexico: a longitudinal analysis

Carlos D. Rivera Saldana, Leo Beletsky, Annick Borquez, Susan M. Kiene, Steffanie A. Strathdee, María Luisa Zúñiga, Natasha K. Martin, Javier Cepeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Syringe-sharing among people who inject drugs, which can occur during incarceration and post-release, has been linked with increased risk of blood-borne infections. We aimed to investigate the cumulative effect of repeated incarceration and the post-release period on receptive syringe-sharing. Design: Ongoing community-based cohort, recruited through targeted sampling between 2011 and 2012 with 6-month follow-ups. Setting: Tijuana, Mexico. Participants: Sample of 185 participants (median age 35 years; 67% female) with no history of incarceration at study entry, followed to 2017. Measurements: Cumulative incarceration and post-release period were constructed from incarceration events reported in the past 6 months for each study visit. Receptive syringe-sharing in the past 6 months was assessed as a binary variable. We used logistic regression with generalized estimating equations to examine the association between cumulative incarceration events and the post-release period with receptive syringe-sharing over time. Missing data were handled through multiple imputation. Findings: At baseline, 65% of participants engaged in receptive syringe-sharing in the prior 6 months. At follow-up, 150 (81%) participants experienced a total of 358 incarceration events [median = 2, interquartile range (IQR) = 1–3]. The risk of receptive syringe-sharing increased with the number of repeated incarcerations. Compared with never incarcerated, those with one incarceration had 1.28 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.97–1.68] higher adjusted odds of syringe-sharing; two to three incarcerations, 1.42 (95% CI = 1.02–1.99) and more than three incarcerations, 2.10 (95% CI = 1.15–3.85). Participants released within the past 6 months had 1.53 (95% CI = 1.14–2.05) higher odds of sharing syringes compared with those never incarcerated. This post-release risk continued up to 1.5 years post-incarceration (adjusted odds ratio = 1.41, 95% CI = 1.04–1.91), but then waned. Conclusions: A longitudinal community cohort study among people who inject drugs suggested that the effects of incarceration on increased injecting risk, measured through syringe-sharing, are cumulative and persist during the post-release period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2724-2733
Number of pages10
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cumulative incarceration
  • PWID
  • Tijuana
  • longitudinal
  • multiple imputation
  • post-release
  • re-entry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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