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Flashblood: Blood Sharing Among Female Injecting Drug Users in Tanzania

June 15, 2010

In the practice called "flashblood," a syringe-full of blood is passed from someone who has just injected heroin to a second person, who then injects the blood in lieu of heroin. The current study examines the association between flashblood use and demographic factors, HIV status, and variables associated with risky sex and drug behaviors among female injecting drug users (IDUs). The cross-sectional study was set in Dar es Salaam.


Via purposive sampling for hard-to-reach populations, 169 female IDUs were recruited. The association between flashblood use, demographic and personal characteristics, and risky sex and drug use variables were analyzed by t-test and chi-square test. The association between residential neighborhood and flashblood use was mapped.

Flashblood injectors were more likely to: be married (P=0.05); have lived at current residence for a shorter time; have been forced by a family member to have sex as a child (P=0.007); inject heroin more in the last 30 days (P=0.005); smoke marijuana at an earlier age (P=0.04); use contaminated rinse water (P<0.03); pool money for drugs (P<0.03); and share drugs. Nonusers of flashblood were more likely to live with their parents (P=0.003). By neighborhood, flashblood use was highest near downtown and in the next two adjoining suburbs and lowest in the most distant suburbs.

"These data indicate that more vulnerable women who are heavy users and living in shorter-term housing are injecting flashblood," the authors concluded. "The practice of flashblood appears to be spreading from the inner city to the suburbs."

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Excerpted from:
06.2010; Vol. 105; No. 6: P. 1062-1070; Sheryl A. McCurdy; Michael W. Ross; Mark L. Williams; Gad P. Kilonzo; Melkizedek T. Leshabari

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