Injection drug users report good access to pharmacy sale of syringes.
ABSTRACT To examine injection drug users (IDUs) opinions and behavior regarding purchase of sterile syringes from pharmacies.
Urban and rural sites in Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Eight focus groups, with 4 to 15 IDU participants per group.
Transcripts of focus group discussions were evaluated for common themes by the authors and through the use of the software program NUD*IST.
Knowledge of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), pharmacy use, barriers to access from pharmacies, high-risk and risk-reducing behavior, and rural/urban difference.
Almost all participants knew the importance of using sterile syringes for disease prevention and reported buying syringes from pharmacies more than from any other source. Two IDUs believed pharmacists knew the syringes were being used for injecting drugs and perceived pharmacists' sales of syringes to be an attempt to contribute to HIV prevention. Most IDUs reported that sterile syringes were relativity easy to buy from pharmacies, but most also reported barriers to access, such as having to buy in packs of 50 or 100, being made to sign a book, having to make up a story about being diabetic, or having the feeling that the pharmacists were demeaning them. While the majority of IDUs reported properly cleaning or not sharing syringes and safely disposing of them, others reported inadequate cleaning of syringes and instances of sharing syringes or of improper disposal. There were few differences in IDUs' reported ability to buy syringes among states or between urban and rural sites, although the data suggest that IDUs could buy syringes more easily in the urban settings.
For the most part, participants understood the need for sterile syringes in order to protect themselves from HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus and saw pharmacies as the best source of sterile syringes. Although these data are not generalizable, they suggest that pharmacists can and do serve as HIV-prevention service providers in their communities.
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ABSTRACT: Since 2005, California law allowed over-the-counter (OTC) syringe sales pending local authorization. Although pharmacy sales of OTC syringes are associated with reduced injection-mediated risks and decreases in human immunodeficiency virus infection rates, little is known about the factors associated with syringe purchase among injection drug users (IDUs). Using a cross-sectional design, the authors applied targeted sampling to collect quantitative survey data from IDUs (n = 563) recruited in San Francisco, California, during 2008. They also compiled a comprehensive list of retail pharmacies, their location, and whether they sell OTC syringes. They used a novel combination of geographic information system and statistical analyses to determine the demographic, behavioral, and spatial factors associated with OTC syringe purchase by IDUs. In multivariate analyses, age, race, injection frequency, the type of drug injected, and the source of syringe supply were independently associated with OTC syringe purchases. Notably, the prevalence of OTC syringe purchase was 53% lower among African-American IDUs (adjusted prevalence ratio = 0.47, 95% confidence interval: 0.33, 0.67) and higher among injectors of methamphetamine (adjusted prevalence ratio = 1.35, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.70). Two neighborhoods with high densities of IDUs had limited access to OTC syringes. Increased access to OTC syringes would potentially prevent blood-borne infectious diseases among IDUs.American journal of epidemiology 05/2012; 176(1):14-23. · 5.59 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Increased options for syringe acquisition and disposal have been associated with reductions in high-risk behaviors. This study determined the extent of pharmacy uptake in accessing syringes among injection drug users (IDUs) and estimated associations between pharmacy uptake and safer injection/disposal practices. Two years after the implementation of California's Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, which removed restrictions to non-prescription syringe sales through pharmacies with local authorization, IDUs were recruited through street outreach in San Francisco and interviewed regarding recent syringe acquisition, use, and disposal. The sample of 105 persons included a high proportion of men (67%), people of color (49%), and homeless persons (71%). The most common syringe source was a syringe exchange program (SEP) (80%), with pharmacies being accessed by 39% of respondents. The most commonly cited source of disposal was a SEP (65%), with very few reports of pharmacy disposal (2%). Adjusted analysis showed that unsuccessful attempts to purchase syringes at a pharmacy increased the odds of both injecting with a used syringe and giving away a used syringe. Using a SEP decreased the odds of unsafe injection and disposal practices. Thus, 2 years after the initiation of the California Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, results from this small study suggest that SEPs still provide the majority of syringe distribution and disposal services to San Francisco IDUs; however, pharmacies now augment syringe access. In addition, unsafe injection behavior is reported more often among those who do not use these syringe sources. These results are consistent with prior studies in suggesting that increasing the availability of syringes through SEPs and pharmacies, and developing bridges between them, may further reduce syringe-related risk.Journal of Urban Health 07/2010; 87(4):534-42. · 1.89 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Community pharmacies serve as key locations for public health services including interventions to enhance the availability of syringes sold over-the-counter (OTC), an important strategy to prevent injection-mediated HIV transmission. Little is known about the community characteristics associated with the availability of pharmacies and pharmacies that sell syringes OTC. We conducted multivariable regression analyses to determine whether the sociodemographic characteristics of census tract residents were associated with pharmacy presence in Los Angeles (LA) County during 2008. Using a geographic information system, we conducted hot-spot analyses to identify clusters of pharmacies, OTC syringe-selling pharmacies, sociodemographic variables, and their relationships. For LA County census tracts (N = 2,054), population size (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.22; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 1.16, 1.28), median age of residents (AOR, 1.03; 95 % CI, 1.01, 1.05), and the percent of households receiving public assistance (AOR, 0.97; 95 % CI, 0.94, 0.99) were independently associated with the presence of all pharmacies. Only 12 % of census tracts had at least one OTC syringe-selling pharmacy and sociodemographic variables were not independently associated with the presence of OTC syringe-selling pharmacies. Clusters of pharmacies (p < 0.01) were located proximally to clusters of older populations and were distant from clusters of poorer populations. Our combined statistical and spatial analyses provided an innovative approach to assess the sociodemographic and geographic factors associated with the presence of community pharmacies and pharmacies that participate in OTC syringe sales.Journal of Urban Health 04/2013; · 1.89 Impact Factor