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NCJ Number: 192833 Find in a Library
Title: Risk Behaviors Among Injecting Drug Users in Northern Ireland
Journal: Substance Use & Misuse  Volume:36  Issue:14  Dated:2001  Pages:2137-2157
Author(s): Karen McElrath Ph.D.
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 21
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study focused on the methods by which injection drug users (IDUs) in Northern Ireland managed drug lifestyles in the context of considerable social stigma and conservative drug policies.
Abstract: This study was based on in-depth interviews with 43 current or former users of heroin who had used heroin in Northern Ireland. Most study participants were males aged 18 to 48 years old. The majority of participants reported great difficulties in obtaining new needles/syringes to be used for injecting heroin and other drugs. The limited supply of needles as well as the cost of purchasing needles, contributed to a number of behaviors, such as sharing needles, that posed risk for HIV, Hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases. Drug policies can affect risk behaviors that contribute to the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV. Available data regarding the prevalence and incidence of HIV among IDUs in Northern Ireland suggested that these rates were low in comparison to other European regions. However, studies that examine the rate of voluntary testing among IDUs in Northern Ireland are lacking. The majority of participants in this study had never been exposed to formal treatment for heroin use and several had never disclosed their drug histories to medical or health professionals. This suggested a possibility that several IDUs in Northern Ireland had not undergone testing for HIV, in which case the official data were likely to be underestimated. Harm reduction policies, such as methadone and needle exchange programs, have been shown to reduce the spread of HIV. To date Northern Ireland has failed to implement basic harm reduction strategies. Travel between countries among the IDU population and during the injection career, has been identified as a major factor in introducing HIV to the home country. The geographic proximity of Northern Ireland to regions characterized by large numbers of injectors when combined with extensive risk behaviors among IDUs should be of great concern to health and other government policymakers. 6 footnotes, 48 references
Main Term(s): AIDS/HIV transmission; Drug Policy; Northern Ireland
Index Term(s): Drug abuse; Drug laws; Drug paraphernalia; Drug use; Effect of AIDS research on policies; Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
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