A cluster analysis of drug use and sexual HIV risks and their correlates in a sample of African-American crack cocaine smokers with HIV infection

Lena Nilsson Schönnesson, John Atkinson, Mark L. Williams, Anne Bowen, Michael W. Ross, Sandra C. Timpson

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25 Scopus citations


The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to classify a sample of HIV-seropositive African-American crack cocaine smokers into homogenous HIV drug use and sexual risk groups using a two step multivariate cluster analysis. Two hundred and fifty-eight crack cocaine smokers participated in the study. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct HIV risk groups. The highest risk group, the largest one, was characterized by frequent, daily crack use, multiple sex partners, trading sex, and inconsistent condom use. The consistent condom use group, the smallest group, was characterized by consistent condom use. The inconsistent condom use group, the second largest group, was distinguished by inconsistent condom use. Comparisons of the three HIV risk groups revealed that the highest risk group had a higher proportion of illegal sources of income, higher proportion of binged crack use, frequent, daily, alcohol use, same gender sex partners, and scored higher on depressive symptoms. Members of the consistent condom use group were more likely to have been HIV diagnosed for a shorter time, to have HIV serodiscordant casual sex partners, higher psychological motivation for condom use, and a lower frequency of vaginal sex. Members of the inconsistent condom use group were more likely to have a main sex partner, to be married, to be on public assistance, to know the HIV serostatus of their casual partner, and less likely to conceal their HIV serostatus. An alarming finding was that a large number of participants inconsistently used condoms with HIV serodiscordant sex partners. Interventions aiming to prevent the secondary spread of HIV infection in African-American crack cocaine smokers should take this variability in account and focus on the differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Role of Funding Source : Funding for this study was provided by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, R01 DAO14485. The NIDA had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.


  • African-American
  • Cluster analysis
  • Crack cocaine
  • HIV infection
  • HIV risk groups


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