Deakin University

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’I’d never share a needle’…[but I often have unsafe sex]: Considering the paradox of young people’s sex and drugs talk

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-03, 01:55 authored by L Hillier, D Dempsey, Lyn Harrison
Results from a national survey of young homeless people aged between 12 and 25 in Australia, revealed a marked contrast between the mainly safe injecting practices and the mainly unsafe sexual practices of a subgroup who injected drugs. This paper offers an analysis of the selfreported sexual and drug injecting behaviours of 178 young people and the qualitative accounts of injecting drug use and sexual behaviour of a smaller group of thirty who were interviewed as part of the larger sample. Young people’s stories of the culture and practices surrounding injecting were encouraging in the attention given to notions of responsibility and care for others, and a coherent discourse of belief in ’safe’ injecting practices was evident. A notion of the ’druggie’ or responsible drug user was contrasted with the ’junkie’ or irresponsible user, within the culture of drug use described. Conversely, reported sexual behaviours revealed neither consistent discourses about safe sex, nor an unambiguously expressed personal commitment to safe sex. Analysis of the differences between sex and drug use talk, and the potential implications for intervention, are considered. © 1999 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.



Culture, Health and Sexuality




347 - 361