|An image from the presentation of William Zule, illustrating how syringe design can affect the amount of blood collected and transmitted when sharing needles.|
Delegates at the conference heard that it is possible to reduce the rate of new HIV infections in injecting drug users (IDUs).
Approximately 30% of all HIV infections are in injecting drug users. However, this population is often marginalised, stigmatised and criminalised. This can make prevention work with IDUs much harder.
Delegates heard that needle-exchange programmes can significantly reduce the sharing of syringes and needles.
In Tajikistan, this achieved a fall in new cases of hepatitis C and the stabilisation of HIV incidence. The cost-effectiveness of needle-exchange programmes was emphasised.
Nevertheless, a Chinese study showed that it was often difficult to retain drug users in methadone treatment programmes, often because of arrest.
Peer-support initiatives were found to have a positive effect on risk behaviour in Vietnam and Thailand.
There was also hope that a new type of syringe with less space for blood might help reduce the risk of transmission.