Carl A. Latkin, PhD, lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management, explained that HIV rates are known to differ by geographic location and that disadvantaged urban areas tend to have high rates of HIV.
He said, "Past studies have shown a consistent relationship between socioeconomic status and health, but the ways in which neighborhood characteristics impact health behaviors are poorly understood. Our findings show how neighborhood characteristics and stressors, such as crime, abandoned buildings, loitering, unemployment, crowding and litter lead to greater depression. Individuals who have high levels of depression tend to take more illicit drugs and engage in more risk behaviors."
The researchers examined data from a survey of 701 injection drug users from the Self-Help in Eliminating Lethal Disease (SHIELD) Study, an HIV prevention intervention in Baltimore, Md. They found that psychological distress or feelings of hopelessness and helplessness is higher in more socially deprived neighborhoods and that stress leads to greater injection frequency and needle sharing. They also learned that an increase in injection drug use lead drug users to share drug equipment. The researchers did not see a clear correlation between stress and injection frequency in female study participants.
The researchers note that depression is often viewed as a personal or indivi
Contact: Kenna L. Lowe
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health