Faculty Profile

Ricky Bluthenthal, Ph.D.

Professor of Preventive Medicine
Associate Dean for Social Justice

Ricky N. Bluthenthal is a Professor (Clinical Scholar) 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. He is primarily interested in approaches to improving health outcomes and reducing risk among disadvantaged groups. In his prior studies, Dr. Bluthenthal has used quantitative and qualitative research methods to establish the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs, test novel interventions and strategies to reduce HIV risk and improve HIV testing among people who inject drugs and men who has sex with men, document how community conditions contribute to health disparities, and examine health policy implementation. His current studies include: 1)An efficacy trial of a group-based, culturally congruent intervention to reduce HIV risk among recently incarcerated, bisexual African American men; 2)an exploratory, mixed-method study on people who initiated drug injection in their thirties, 3)an efficacy trial of a short (hour long) social learning intervention to reduce transitions into injection drug use, and 4)a community-based participatory research project to reduce multiple health risk among middle-school aged Latinos and their parents. Dr. Bluthenthal has authored over 105 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.


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

Correlates of Sexual Coercion among People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA
J Urban Health. 2018 Apr 03.

Efficacy of a Small-Group Intervention for Post-Incarcerated Black Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women (MSMW)
J Urban Health. 2018 Mar 14.

Latent Classes of Sexual Risk Among Black Men Who Have Sex with Men and Women
Arch Sex Behav. 2018 Mar 14.

Harnessing the language of overdose prevention to advance evidence-based responses to the opioid crisis
Int J Drug Policy. 2018 Mar 07; 55:77-79.

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 Feb 21; 1-11.

Differences in time to injection onset by drug in California: Implications for the emerging heroin epidemic
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Feb 15; 185:253-259.

Preventing Injection Drug use Initiation: State of the Evidence and Opportunities for the Future
J Urban Health. 2018 Feb; 95(1):91-98.

Age Cohort Differences in Sexual Behaviors Among Black Men Who Have Sex With Men and Women
J Sex Res. 2018 Jan 29; 1-10.

Racial Pride and Condom Use in Post-Incarcerated African-American Men Who Have Sex With Men and Women: Test of a Conceptual Model for the Men in Life Environments Intervention
Arch Sex Behav. 2018 Jan; 47(1):169-181.

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

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.

Sexual Positioning Practices and Sexual Risk Among Black Gay and Bisexual Men: A Life Course Perspective
AIDS Behav. 2017 Oct 27.

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.

Sexual Positioning Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Narrative Review
Arch Sex Behav. 2017 May; 46(4):869-884.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Syringe disposal among people who inject drugs in Los Angeles: the role of sterile syringe source
Int J Drug Policy. 2014 Sep; 25(5):905-10.

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

The association between law enforcement encounters and syringe sharing among IDUs on skid row: a mixed methods analysis
AIDS Behav. 2013 Oct; 17(8):2637-43.

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.

Pharmacy syringe purchase test of nonprescription syringe sales in San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2010
J Urban Health. 2013 Apr; 90(2):276-83.

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).

Religious congregations' involvement in HIV: a case study approach
AIDS Behav. 2011 Aug; 15(6):1220-32.

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

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

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

The effect of business improvement districts on the incidence of violent crimes
Inj Prev. 2010 Oct; 16(5):327-32.

Prevalence and predictors of transitions to and away from syringe exchange use over time in 3 US cities with varied syringe dispensing policies
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Sep 01; 111(1-2):74-81.

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.

Three years after legalization of nonprescription pharmacy syringe sales in California: where are we now?
J Urban Health. 2010 Jul; 87(4):576-85.

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

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.

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

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.

The neighborhood alcohol environment and alcohol-related morbidity
Alcohol Alcohol. 2009 Sep-Oct; 44(5):491-9.

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

The effect of urban street gang densities on small area homicide incidence in a large metropolitan county, 1994-2002
J Urban Health. 2009 Jul; 86(4):511-23.

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.

Social capital and the neighborhood alcohol environment
Health Place. 2009 Mar; 15(1):323-32.

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 tre...
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Nov; 31(11):1920-6.

Reliability of a store observation tool in measuring availability of alcohol and selected foods
J Urban Health. 2007 Nov; 84(6):807-13.

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.

The impact of legalizing syringe exchange programs on arrests among injection drug users in California
J Urban Health. 2007 May; 84(3):423-35.

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.

Racial disparities in completion rates from publicly funded alcohol treatment: economic resources explain more than demographics and addiction severity
Health Serv Res. 2007 Apr; 42(2):773-94.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Price elasticity of demand for malt liquor beer: findings from a US pilot study
Soc Sci Med. 2006 May; 62(9):2101-11.

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.

Unmet need for recommended preventive health services among clients of California syringe exchange programs: implications for quality improvement
Drug Alcohol Depend. 2006 Feb 01; 81(2):167-78.

Secondary syringe exchange among users of 23 California syringe exchange programs
Subst Use Misuse. 2006; 41(6-7):865-82.

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.

Witness for Wellness: preliminary findings from a community-academic participatory research mental health initiative
Ethn Dis. 2006; 16(1 Suppl 1):S18-34.

Seeking community input to improve implementation of a lifestyle modification program
Ethn Dis. 2006; 16(1 Suppl 1):S79-88.

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

Psychosocial and behavioral differences among drug injectors who use and do not use syringe exchange programs
AIDS Behav. 2005 Dec; 9(4):495-504.

Screening for sexually transmitted diseases in non-traditional settings: a personal view
Int J STD AIDS. 2005 Aug; 16(8):521-7.

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

Recruiting drug-using men who have sex with men into behavioral interventions: a two-stage approach
J Urban Health. 2005 Mar; 82(1 Suppl 1):i109-19.

Sexual risk among injection drug users recruited from syringe exchange programs in California
Sex Transm Dis. 2005 Jan; 32(1):27-34.

International Journal of Drug Policy
Police crackdowns, societal cost, and 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.

Sterile syringe access conditions and variations in HIV risk among drug injectors in three cities
Addiction. 2004 Sep; 99(9):1136-46.

Sexual relationships, secondary syringe exchange, and gender differences in HIV risk among drug injectors
J Urban Health. 2004 Jun; 81(2):249-59.

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.

Predictors and prevention of nonfatal overdose among street-recruited injection heroin users in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1998-1999
Am J Public Health. 2001 Nov; 91(11):1842-6.

Trends in HIV seroprevalence and risk among gay and bisexual men who inject drugs in San Francisco, 1988 to 2000
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2001 Nov 01; 28(3):264-9.

Sexual transmission of HIV-1 among injection drug users in San Francisco, USA: risk-factor analysis
Lancet. 2001 May 05; 357(9266):1397-401.

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.

The effect of syringe exchange use on high-risk injection drug users: a cohort study
AIDS. 2000 Mar 31; 14(5):605-11.

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

Risk factors among IDUs who give injections to or receive injections from other drug users
Addiction. 1999 May; 94(5):675-83.

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.

Use of an illegal syringe exchange and injection-related risk behaviors among street-recruited injection drug users in Oakland, California, 1992 to 1995
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol. 1998 Aug 15; 18(5):505-11.

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

Syringe exchange as a social movement: a case study of harm reduction in Oakland, California
Subst Use Misuse. 1998 Apr; 33(5):1147-71.

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.

Structural impediments to operational syringe-exchange programs
AIDS Public Policy J. 1996; 11(4):169-84.

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.