Prevalence and predictors of injecting-related injury and disease among clients of Australia's needle and syringe programs

Libby Topp, Jenny Iversen, Andrew Conroy, Allison M Salmon, Lisa Maher et al.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2008, 32 (1): 34-7

OBJECTIVE: To identify lifetime prevalence and predictors of self-reported injecting-related injuries and diseases (IRID) and/or injecting-related problems (IRP) among a national cross-sectional sample of injecting drug users.

METHODS: 1,961 clients of 45 needle and syringe programs (NSPs) who participated in the 2006 Australian NSP Survey self-completed an item regarding lifetime experience of eight separate IRIDs and IRPs.

RESULTS: Sixty-nine per cent of participants reported a history of IRID/IRP, with a mean of 1.9 injuries/problems (range 0-8). Lifetime prevalence of specific injuries/problems ranged from problems finding a vein (43%) to endocarditis (4%). Factors independently associated with IRID/IRP included bisexual identity; daily or more frequent injecting; injection of pharmaceutical preparations; female gender; longer injecting history; and hepatitis C antibody-positive serostatus.

CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with existing literature, results suggest that vascular injury and localised infections are common among IDUs; and that treatment-seeking is often delayed until serious complications arise.

IMPLICATIONS: Findings support the imperative for co-ordinated and timely treatment and prevention activities to reduce the severity and burden of these prevalent injecting outcomes.

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