Home > An analysis of 15-19-year old first attenders at the Dublin Needle Exchange, 1990-97.

Mullen, Louise and Barry, Joseph (2001) An analysis of 15-19-year old first attenders at the Dublin Needle Exchange, 1990-97. Addiction, 96, (2), pp. 251-258.

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The aim of this study was to identify characteristics and trends over time in young injecting drug users at first attendance at needle exchange. Retrospective cross-sectional survey of routinely collected data. The study was carried out at various locations in the Dublin area that provided needle exchange services. The participants in the study were first-time attenders (n = 1224) at the needle exchange from 1990 to 1997, between the ages of 15 and 19. Factors associated with a likelihood of needle sharing and condom use were tested using logistic regression. The study found that ncreases in both the number and proportion of young injectors, particularly young female injectors, have occurred over the 8 years. Forty-eight per cent of the young injectors were injecting for less than 1 year. Needle sharing prevalence in the year previous to first attendance was 39% and condom use was 61%. The proportion of females not using a condom during sexual relationships was significantly higher than males. Very few of the young attenders had received any treatment for drug dependance.

The study concluded that after the first year of injecting drug use the likelihood of needle sharing increased. The authors recommend that interventions occur early on and are targeted to the needs of young injecting drug users, in particular young females. It is essential that services are accessible to the young injecting drug user and that barriers to contact with services are minimized or eliminated. Some high-risk behaviours are occurring in the context of the sexual relationship and this should be taken into account when designing prevention programmes, especially for young females.

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