Home > Syringe exchanges: a public health response to problem drug use.

Cox, Gemma and Cassin, Sean and Lawless, Marie and Geoghegan, Tony (2000) Syringe exchanges: a public health response to problem drug use. Irish Medical Journal, 93, (5), pp. 143-146.

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This paper presents the findings of the first ever Irish follow-up study to establish the effectiveness of syringe exchanges as a harm reduction strategy. Data were collected by means of a structured interview at first visit and three-months after initial contact from 370 injecting drug users who attended the Merchant's Quay Project's Health Promotion Unit between May 1st 1997 and October 31st 1998. Evidence has shown that syringe exchanges play an important contributing role in significantly reducing the numbers reporting both the use of heroin as a primary drug and its frequency of use.
The study demonsrated that syringe exchange programmes can be highly effective as a public health initiative. There was evidence of a significant reduction in both borrowing and lending of used injecting equipment by respondents in the three-month follow up intervention. The lack of access to syringe exchange services at weekends and evening times represent a gap in service provision. There is a need to continue development of prevention strategies for HIV and hepatitis C transmission.

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