Home > Needle exchange provision in COVID-19 pandemic.

HSE National Social Inclusion Office. (2020) Needle exchange provision in COVID-19 pandemic. Dublin: Health Service Executive.

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Harm reduction is a corner stone of our National Drug and Alcohol Strategy, ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’ and one of the key elements of Harm Reduction among People who Inject Drugs (PWID) is the provision of needle exchange. In Ireland this service is delivered in a number of ways including fixed-site locations such as clinics or Community Pharmacies and novel interventions such as Backpacking Outreach programmes.

2. Concerns
2.1 The virus causing COVID-19 spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus can also survive for relatively long periods of time on some surfaces.
2.2 Sharing injecting material increases the risk of infection with blood-borne viruses, such as HIV and viral hepatitis B and C, the sharing of inhalation, vaping, smoking or injecting equipment contaminated with COVID-19 may increase the risk of infection and play a role in the spread of the virus.
2.3 The COVID-19 outbreak may present additional risks that are currently not widely recognised, for example the sharing of cannabis joints, cigarettes, vaping or inhalation devices or drug paraphernalia. 2.4 Disruption to the supply of and access to equipment is likely to occur for a number of reasons that may include staff shortages, service disruption and closure, self-isolation and restrictions placed on free movement.

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