It is recommended that injection drug users (IDU) use a new syringe for each injection to reduce the risk of catching HIV, hepatitis C and serious skin infections.
An intervention was developed to increase the use of a new syringe for each injection among IDU who visit needle exchange programs in Québec. Intervention Mapping served as the conceptual framework to develop the intervention, which was based on a strategy known as Computer Tailoring. This strategy uses information technology to present messages customized according to individual characteristics.
Injection drug users who visit needle exchange programs adopt safer injection practices.
A two-group randomized control trial was used to evaluate the effects of the intervention on the adoption of safer injection practices. Behavioural variables were measured before the intervention, one month after the intervention began and three months later. A total of 260 IDUs were recruited. At the start of the intervention, 52.3% of participants reported that they had not always used new syringes in the previous week. A positive short term effect was observed: one month after the intervention began, participants in the experimental group were using fewer dirty syringes compared to the control group (p = 0.004), and the number of persons who always used new syringes or did not inject at all increased (p = 0.04). These effects were no longer significant three months later.
The results of this study indicate that, when exposed to tailored educational messages, injection drug users who visit needle exchange programs adopt safer injection practices. It is therefore recommended that this intervention be integrated into needle exchange programs in Québec.
Gaston Godin, Université Laval
Call for proposals
Deposit of the research report: March 2010