A needle exchange program (NEP) begun in response to a severe HIV outbreak in rural Indiana has achieved some success, Healio reports. Since January, there have been 181 cases of HIV linked with injection of the opiate Opana (oxymorphone) in a community of 4,200 people in which it is estimated that there are more than 500 syringe-sharing partners.

Researchers examined the impact of the NEP in Scott County that was authorized at the end of March. They looked at how injection behaviors changed over time among 148 (62 percent) of those using the NEP. Each individual made at least two visits to the NEP.

At the first visit, 18 percent of the injection drug users (IDUs) reported sharing syringes; by the latest visit, just 5 percent did. The median frequency that the IDUs reused each syringe dropped from two to one. By the latest visit the median number of syringes returned was 57. The median number of new syringes distributed rose from 35 to 63. The percentage of those who used syringes to divide drugs dropped from 19 to 4 percent, while the proportion that shared other injection equipment fell from 24 to 5 percent.

Troublingly, the IDUs reported injecting drugs more often between their first and latest trips to the NEP. The median injection frequency rose from five to nine times per day.

To read the Healio article, click here.