Faculty Profile

Ricky Bluthenthal

Ricky Bluthenthal, Ph.D.

Professor of Preventive Medicine; Associate Dean for Social Justice


About Ricky Bluthenthal

Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean for Social Justice and a Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and the Institute for Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California. He received a BA in History and Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz and a PhD in sociology from the University of California Berkeley. His research has established the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs, tested novel interventions and strategies to reduce HIV risk and improve HIV testing among injection drug users and men who have sex with men, documented how community conditions contribute to health disparities, and examined health policy implementation. His current studies include an observational cohort study of how cannabis legalization impacts use patterns and health outcomes of cannabis and opioids among people who inject drugs and a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a single session intervention to reduce injection initiation risk behaviors among established people who inject drugs. Dr. Bluthenthal has authored or co-authored over 140 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, The Lancet, Addiction, and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research among others.


Opioid withdrawal symptoms, frequency, and pain characteristics as correlates of health risk among people who inject drugs
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2020 Mar 02; 107932.

A Community-Based Mindfulness Intervention Among Latino Adolescents and Their Parents: A Qualitative Feasibility and Acceptability Study
J Immigr Minor Health. 2020 Feb 20.

Needle exchange effectiveness in the midst of multiple injection-related epidemics: commentary on Kaberg et al
Infect Dis (Lond). 2020 Feb 17; 1-3.

Characteristics Associated with Nonmedical Methadone Use among People Who Inject Drugs in California
Subst Use Misuse. 2020; 55(3):377-386.

Initiating Persons into Injection Drug Use in Rural West Virginia, USA
Subst Use Misuse. 2020; 55(2):337-344.

Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution Within Syringe Service Programs - United States, 2019
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Aug 21; 69(33):1117-1121.

Congregational involvement in HIV: A qualitative comparative analysis of factors influencing HIV activity among diverse urban congregations
Soc Sci Med. 2019 Dec 05; 246:112718.

Exploring Religiosity and Spirituality in the Sexual Decision-Making of Black Gay and Bisexual Men
J Relig Health. 2019 Oct; 58(5):1792-1802.

Measures of harm reduction service provision for people who inject drugs
Bull World Health Organ. 2019 Sep 01; 97(9):605-611.

Correlates of Sexual Coercion among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA
J Urban Health. 2019 Jun; 96(3):469-476.

Associations between perceived illicit fentanyl use and infectious disease risks among people who inject drugs
Int J Drug Policy. 2019 12; 74:299-304.

Opioid use and misuse: health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions
Psychol Health. 2019 09; 34(9):1105-1139.

Factors Associated with Frequency of Recent Initiation of Others into Injection Drug Use Among People Who Inject Drugs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA, USA, 2016-17
Subst Use Misuse. 2019; 54(10):1715-1724.

A Public Health Strategy for the Opioid Crisis
Public Health Rep. 2018 Nov/Dec; 133(1_suppl):24S-34S.

Monitoring Twitter Conversations for Targeted Recruitment in Cancer Trials in Los Angeles County: Protocol for a Mixed-Methods Pilot Study
JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Sep 25; 7(9):e177.

\"Who\'s Really Regulating? Who\'s Benefiting?\" Exploring Black Stakeholders\' Awareness and Trust in the Food and Drug Administration\'s Role as a Tobacco Regulator.
Tob Regul Sci. 2018 Jul; 4(4):41-49.

Peer-to-peer injection: Demographic, drug use, and injection-related risk factors
Int J Drug Policy. 2018 11; 61:44-51.

Exploring the preferences of a culturally congruent, peer-based HIV prevention intervention for black men who have sex with men
Sex Health. 2018 11; 15(5):424-430.

Latent Classes of Sexual Risk Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women
Arch Sex Behav. 2018 10; 47(7):2071-2080.

Exploring and Adapting a Conceptual Model of Sexual Positioning Practices and Sexual Risk Among HIV-Negative Black Men Who Have Sex With Men
J Sex Res. 2018 10; 55(8):1022-1032.

Age Cohort Differences in Sexual Behaviors Among Black Men Who Have Sex With Men and Women
J Sex Res. 2018 10; 55(8):1012-1021.

Harnessing the language of overdose prevention to advance evidence-based responses to the opioid crisis
Int J Drug Policy. 2018 05; 55:77-79.

Efficacy of a Small-Group Intervention for Post-Incarcerated Black Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women (MSMW)
J Urban Health. 2018 04; 95(2):159-170.

HIV Acquisition and Transmission Potential Among African American Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women in Three US. Cities.
Arch Sex Behav. 2018 01; 47(1):183-194.

Differences in time to injection onset by drug in California: Implications for the emerging heroin epidemic
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 04 01; 185:253-259.

Direct and indirect effects of parent stress on child obesity risk and added sugar intake in a sample of Southern California adolescents
Public Health Nutr. 2017 Dec; 20(18):3285-3294.

Parents' perceptions of dental care challenges in male children with autism spectrum disorder: An initial qualitative exploration
Res Autism Spectr Disord. 2017 Jul; 39:63-72.

Contextualising family microaggressions and strategies of resilience among young gay and bisexual men of Latino heritage
Cult Health Sex. 2017 01; 19(1):107-120.

Drug use generations and patterns of injection drug use: Birth cohort differences among people who inject drugs in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 06 01; 175:210-218.

Vape Shop Retailers’ Perceptions of Their Products, Customers, and Services: A Qualitative Study
Tobacco Prevention & Cessation. 2017; 2(Supplement):3.

Parents’ perceptions of dental care challenges in male children with autism spectrum disorder: An initial qualitative exploration
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2017; 39(July 2017):63-72.

Initiation of Heroin and Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers by Birth Cohort
Am J Public Health. 2016 Feb; 106(2):298-300.

Moral ambivalence and the decision to initiate others into injection drug use: A qualitative study in two California cities
Int J Drug Policy. 2016 11; 37:42-51.

Food insecurity among people who inject drugs in Los Angeles and San Francisco
Public Health Nutr. 2016 08; 19(12):2204-12.

Gender, Ethnicity, and Their Intersectionality in the Prediction of Smoking Outcome Expectancies in Regular Cigarette Smokers
Behav Modif. 2016 Jan; 40(1-2):281-302.

Oxford Handbook of Acculturation and HealthEdited by Seth J. Schwartz & Jennifer Unger.
Acculturation and risky sexual behavior in adolescents and emerging adults from immigrant families. 2016.

A cost-benefit analysis of a potential supervised injection facility in San Francisco, California, USA
Journal of Drug Issues. 2016.

Is cannabis use associated with less opioid use among people who inject drugs?
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Aug 01; 153:236-41.

Next steps in research on injection initiation incidence and prevention
Addiction. 2015 Aug; 110(8):1258-9.

Factors associated with being asked to initiate someone into injection drug use
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Apr 01; 149:252-8.

Drug-related deaths and the sales of needles through pharmacies
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 Feb 01; 147:229-34.

Consistency of self-reported drug use events in a mixed methods study of people who inject drugs
Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2015; 41(4):332-8.

Patterns of drug use, risky behavior, and health status among persons who inject drugs living in San Diego, California: a latent class analysis
Subst Use Misuse. 2015 Jan; 50(2):205-14.

Factors associated with initiating someone into illicit drug injection
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Nov 01; 144:186-92.

Characteristics of people who initiate injection drug use later in life
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 May 01; 138:244-50.

Abscess and self-treatment among injection drug users at four California syringe exchanges and their surrounding communities
Subst Use Misuse. 2013 May; 48(7):523-31.

Reducing crime by shaping the built environment with zoning: An empirical study of Los Angeles
University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 2013; 161:699-757.

The privatization of public safety in urban neighborhoods: Do business improvement districts reduce violent crime among adolescents?
. Law and Society Review. 2013; 47(3):621-52.

Attitudes and beliefs related to HIV/AIDS in urban religious congregations: barriers and opportunities for HIV-related interventions
Soc Sci Med. 2012 May; 74(10):1520-7.

Non-medical prescription drug use among injection drug users
Journal Drug Issues. 2012; 42(3):216-225.

Assessing geographic and individual level factors associated with arrests among injection drug users in California
Health Place. 2011 Nov; 17(6):1258-65.

Commentary for Li et al, "Sexual transmissibility of HIV among opiates users with concurrent sexual partnerships: An egocentric network study in Yunnan, China.
" Addiction. 2011 Oct; 106(10).

A framework for the specificity of addictions
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 08; 8(8):3399-415.

HIV risks and seroprevalence among Mexican American injection drug users in California
AIDS Behav. 2011 Jan; 15(1):95-102.

HIV prevalence and risk among heterosexual methamphetamine injectors in California
Subst Use Misuse. 2011; 46(9):1081-9.

Cognitive behavioral theories used to explain injection risk behavior among injection drug users: a review and suggestions for the integration of cognitive and environmental models
Health Educ Behav. 2010 Aug; 37(4):504-32.

Pharmacy participation in non-prescription syringe sales in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, 2007
J Urban Health. 2010 Jul; 87(4):543-52.

Access to sterile syringes through San Francisco pharmacies and the association with HIV risk behavior among injection drug users
J Urban Health. 2010 Jul; 87(4):534-42.

Learning about urban congregations and HIV/AIDS: community-based foundations for developing congregational health interventions
J Urban Health. 2010 Jul; 87(4):617-30.

Commentary on Palmateer et al(2010): next steps in the global research agenda on syringe access for injection drug users.
Addiction. 2010 May; 105(5):860-1.

Not enough fruit and vegetables or too many cookies, candies, salty snacks, and soft drinks?
Public Health Rep. 2010 Jan-Feb; 125(1):88-95.

The role of community context in business district revitalization strategies: Business improvement districts in Los Angeles
Public Performance and Management Review. 2010; 33(3):436-58.

Getting the message straight: effects of a brief hepatitis prevention intervention among injection drug users
Harm Reduct J. 2009 Dec 15; 6:36.

Measuring the food environment: shelf space of fruits, vegetables, and snack foods in stores
J Urban Health. 2009 Sep; 86(5):672-82.

Adverse drinking-related consequences among lower income, racial, and ethnic minority drinkers: cross-sectional results
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Apr; 33(4):645-53.

Alcohol outlet density and alcohol consumption in Los Angeles county and southern Louisiana
Geospat Health. 2008 Nov; 3(1):91-101.

Alcohol and tobacco marketing: evaluating compliance with outdoor advertising guidelines
Am J Prev Med. 2008 Sep; 35(3):203-9.

Improving coverage and scale-up of HIV prevention, treatment and care for injecting drug users: moving the agenda forward
Int J Drug Policy. 2008 Apr; 19 Suppl 1:S1-4.

Alcohol availability and neighborhood characteristics in Los Angeles, California and southern Louisiana
J Urban Health. 2008 Mar; 85(2):191-205.

Approval of syringe exchange programs in California: results from a local approach to HIV prevention
Am J Public Health. 2008 Feb; 98(2):278-83.

Encyclopedia of Substance Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery
Needle exchange programs. 2008; 629-32.

Are racial disparities in alcohol treatment completion associated with racial differences in treatment modality entry? Comparison of outpatient treatment and residential treatment in Los Angeles County, 1998 to 2000.
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Nov; 31(11):1920-6.

Community characteristics associated with HIV risk among injection drug users in the San Francisco Bay Area: a multilevel analysis
J Urban Health. 2007 Sep; 84(5):653-66.

Higher syringe coverage is associated with lower odds of HIV risk and does not increase unsafe syringe disposal among syringe exchange program clients
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jul 10; 89(2-3):214-22.

Human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus testing services at syringe exchange programs: availability and outcomes
J Subst Abuse Treat. 2007 Jun; 32(4):423-9.

Examination of the association between syringe exchange program (SEP) dispensation policy and SEP client-level syringe coverage among injection drug users
Addiction. 2007 Apr; 102(4):638-46.

Coverage of HIV prevention programmes for injection drug users: confusions, aspirations, definitions and ways forward
Int J Drug Policy. 2007 Mar; 18(2):92-8.

HCV and HIV counseling and testing integration in California: an innovative approach to increase HIV counseling and testing rates
Public Health Rep. 2007; 122 Suppl 2:68-73.

A multilevel decomposition approach to estimate the role of program location and neighborhood disadvantage in racial disparities in alcohol treatment completion
Soc Sci Med. 2007 Jan; 64(2):462-76.

Perspectives on therapeutic treatment from adolescent probationers
J Psychoactive Drugs. 2006 Dec; 38(4):461-71.

Increasing HIV testing among latinos by bundling HIV testing with other tests
J Urban Health. 2006 Sep; 83(5):849-59.

Alcohol outlets, gonorrhea, and the Los Angeles civil unrest: a longitudinal analysis
Soc Sci Med. 2006 Jun; 62(12):3062-71.

Hospital utilization for injection drug use-related soft tissue infections in urban versus rural counties in California
J Urban Health. 2006 Mar; 83(2):176-81.

Building an academic-community partnered network for clinical services research: the Community Health Improvement Collaborative (CHIC)
Ethn Dis. 2006; 16(1 Suppl 1):S3-17.

Condom attitudes and behaviors among injection drug users participating in California syringe exchange programs
AIDS Behav. 2005 Dec; 9(4):423-32.

Characteristics of malt liquor beer drinkers in a low-income, racial minority community sample
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2005 Mar; 29(3):402-9.

International Journal of Drug Policy
Police crackdownssocietal costand the need for alternative approaches. 2005; 16:137-8.

Injection risk behaviors among clients of syringe exchange programs with different syringe dispensation policies
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2004 Oct 01; 37(2):1307-12.

What is it about needle and syringe exchange programs that make them effective for preventing HIV transmission?
. 2003; 14(5/6):361-3.

Delivering syringe exchange services through “Satellite Exchangers”: Sacramento Area Needle Exchange
International Journal of Drug Policy. 2003; 14(5/6):461-3.

Hepatitis-associated knowledge is low and risks are high among HIV-aware injection drug users in three US cities
Addiction. 2002 Oct; 97(10):1277-87.

Factors associated with readiness to change drug use among needle-exchange users
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2001 May 01; 62(3):225-30.

Needle exchange program attendance and injection risk in Providence, Rhode Island
AIDS Educ Prev. 2001 Feb; 13(1):78-90.

Accessing HIV testing and care
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 Dec 15; 25 Suppl 2:S151-6.

From the cell to the community: AIDS research in CaliforniaThe University of California Universitywide AIDS Research Program annual meeting, February 2000.
West J Med. 2000 Aug; 173(2):119-24.

High prevalence of abscesses and cellulitis among community-recruited injection drug users in San Francisco
Clin Infect Dis. 2000 Mar; 30(3):579-81.

Collateral damage in the War on Drugs: HIV risk behaviors among injection drug users
The International Journal of Drug Policy. 1999; 10:25-38.

HIV risk behaviors associated with the injection process: multiperson use of drug injection equipment and paraphernalia in injection drug user networks
Subst Use Misuse. 1998 Oct; 33(12):2403-23.

Harm reduction and needle exchange programmes
Lancet. 1998 Jun 13; 351(9118):1819-20.

HIV seroprevalence among street-recruited injection drug and crack cocaine users in 16 US municipalities
Am J Public Health. 1998 Jan; 88(1):108-13.

Impact of law enforcement on syringe exchange programs: a look at Oakland and San Francisco
Med Anthropol. 1997 Dec; 18(1):61-83.

HIV risk profile of drug-using women who have sex with women in 19 United States cities
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1997 Nov 01; 16(3):211-7.

HIV seroprevalence in injection drug users
JAMA. 1995 Apr 19; 273(15):1178.

Multimethod research from targeted sampling to HIV risk environments
NIDA Res Monogr. 1995; 157:212-30.

GANGS: The Origins and Impact of Contemporary Youth Gangs in the United States
Gang Organization and Migration. 1993; 193-217.