COVID-19 Prevention, Testing, and Treatment Seeking Among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) on the US Mexico Border

Jorge Puentes, University of Texas at El Paso


The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the negative social determinants of health that affect medically underserved people who inject drugs (PWID) inhibiting their access to services, promoting infectious disease acquisition such as HIV and HCV, and overdose rates. The effects of the pandemic were more pronounced among Latino PWID communities. Participants of this study are 194 PWID residing in El Paso, Texas, and Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua along the US-Mexico border. Cross-sectional surveys were administered assessing environmental risk factors that impact COVID-19 acquisition and engagement in preventive behaviors. The purpose of this secondary data analysis study was to describe the risk environment during COVID-19 and test the influence of constructs of the health belief model on COVID-19 testing. Findings indicated that the risk environment was precarious as participants were economically underserved with limited access to health services along with high rates of unemployment, unshelteredness, poverty, and lack of medical insurance. These vulnerabilities limited the resources available to face the COVID-19. COVID-19 also impacted substance use behavior as participants reported using substances as part of larger groups and with limited harm reduction tools which places them at an increased risk of infectious disease acquisition. Identifying PWID’s engagement in risk and protective behaviors for COVID-19 and use of services during the pandemic will help tailor future interventions to protect PWID communities.

Subject Area

Public health|Virology|Sexuality

Recommended Citation

Puentes, Jorge, "COVID-19 Prevention, Testing, and Treatment Seeking Among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) on the US Mexico Border" (2023). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI30819611.