Prevention: a long-term project



I t is well known that injection drug users are particularly vulnerable to infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C as a result of sharing or reusing syringes.

To promote the importance of using a new needle and syringe for each injection, an intervention was carried out with users of needle exchange programs in Quebec.

When preventive interventions are not maintained over a long period, there is a fresh upsurge of risk behaviours.

This intervention took the form of a prevention strategy using information technology to produce prevention messages tailored to specific individual profiles.

Gaston Godin, Canada Research Chair on Behaviour and Health and research professor at the Faculty of Nursing at Université Laval, carried out a study to evaluate the efficacy of the intervention.

A total of 260 injection drug users were interviewed before intervention, one month after intervention, and four months after intervention. Behavioural variables were measured, such as the frequency of injection and the number of new syringes used, permitting the creation of prevention messages tailored to each user.

Before the intervention, more than 50% of participants reported that they did not always use new syringes.

One month after the intervention began, the participants were using fewer dirty syringes. More participants reported always using a new syringe, or had stopped injecting altogether. However, three months later, the situation had deteriorated: the short-term behavioural changes were no longer present.

This study suggests that when preventive interventions are not maintained over a long period, there is a fresh upsurge of risk behaviours.

These results could prove to be extremely useful to the Quebec public health system.