Special Topic Section: Development of Harm Reduction and Methadone Maintenance in Europe
Drug Injectors and the Cleaning of Needles and SyringesHughes R.A.
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, Heslington, York, UK
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When people share needles and syringes they risk transmitting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infections including hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Cleaning needles and syringes can help to reduce, although not eliminate, these risks. This article begins by engaging with some of the literature on the cleaning of needles and syringes. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with drug injectors in England, the article then goes on to explore drug injectors’ perceptions and experiences of cleaning needles and syringes inside and outside prison. The article concludes by highlighting the implications for future research and policy making. Ultimately there should be a stronger policy response to reduce the risks associated with sharing needles and syringes inside prison, which should include the piloting of prison needle and syringe exchange schemes.
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