Is point of access to needles and syringes related to needle sharing? Comparing data collected from pharmacies and needle and syringe programs in south-east Sydney

  • Bryant J
  • Topp L
  • Hopwood M
 et al. 
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Abstract

Introduction and Aims. The comprehensive needle and syringe distribution system in New South Wales is partly based on the premise that different points of access to injecting equipment may attract different groups of injecting drug users. This paper examines patterns of equipment acquisition and risk for blood-borne virus transmission among injecting drug users who use pharmacies and needle and syringe programs (NSP) in south-east Sydney. Design and Methods. Clients obtaining injecting equipment from four NSP (n = 147) and eight pharmacies (n = 227) in 2006 voluntarily completed a self-administered questionnaire. Respondents were grouped into three categories based on their needle and syringe acquisition patterns: exclusive use of NSP, exclusive use of pharmacies and use of both. Results. Although it was common for respondents to report using both pharmacies and NSP to obtain needles and syringes (57%), a proportion reported exclusive use of pharmacies (17%) and NSP (14%). Exclusive pharmacy users were more likely to have never received treatment for their drug use and the least likely to have had a recent test for hepatitis C. Compared with respondents who exclusively used NSP, respondents who exclusively used pharmacies were more likely to report receptive sharing of injecting equipment (adjusted odds ratio 5.9, 95% confidence interval 2.02–17.14), as were respondents who reported using both sources (adjusted odds ratio 5.8, 95% confidence interval 2.35–14.40). Discussion and Conclusions. The high prevalence of receptive equipment sharing among pharmacy clients indicates a need to improve access to needles and syringes and ancillary equipment, possibly by including ancillary equipment at no cost in existing pre-packaged pharmacy products.[Bryant J, Topp L, Hopwood M, Iversen J, Treloar C, Maher L. Is point of access to needles and syringes related to needle sharing? Comparing data collected from pharmacies and needle and syringe programs in south-east Sydney. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Behavioural risk factor surveillance system
  • Intravenous
  • Needle exchange program
  • Pharmacy
  • Substance use

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Authors

  • Joanne Bryant

  • Libby Topp

  • Max Hopwood

  • Jenny Iversen

  • Carla Treloar

  • Lisa Maher

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