Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reducing HIV infections in injecting drug users

An image from the presentation of William Zule, illustrating how syringe design can affect the amount of blood collected and transmitted when sharing needles.
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.

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