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UK. Improving safety for people who inject drugs

An estimated 1 in 6 people who inject drugs share needles and syringes with other people, increasing their risk of infection with HIV, hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus. These infections are usually spread when blood from one person collects in the space between the needle and the plunger - the ‘dead space’ - and the injecting equipment is shared with someone else without having been cleaned. (NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West (CLAHRC West), UK, Januar 2019)

Low dead space injecting equipment, which can come with fixed needles or needles that can be removed, has less space between the needle and the plunger when it’s fully pushed in. Research suggests that low dead space equipment could reduce the chance of spreading infections if it’s re-used or shared.

Needle and syringe programmes supply sterile equipment to people who inject drugs. Introducing low dead space injecting equipment with detachable needles to these programmes could reduce risk of infection among people who share equipment. But this move would only be effective if people who inject drugs, needle and syringe programmes, and commissioners are willing to switch to this safer equipment. (National Institute for Health Research, UK, Januar 2019)