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  • Groin injecting among a community-recruited sample of people who inject drugs in Thailand

    Posted on January 17th, 2014 TimB No comments

    Use of the femoral vein for the injection of illicit drugs (i.e. groin injecting) has been linked to various health-related harms, including deep vein thrombosis. However, little is known about the prevalence of groin injecting and factors that predict this practice among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Thailand. The researchers sought to investigate the prevalence and factors associated with groin injecting in Bangkok, Thailand.

    Over one-third of our sample of Thai PWID reported recent groin injecting. Frequent midazolam injection and higher education were found to be associated with groin injecting. That high intensity drug users were more likely to inject in the groin is concerning given the known negative consequences associated with the groin as a site of injection. Additionally, PWID who reported drug planting by police were more likely to inject in the groin, suggesting that reliance on law enforcement approaches may undermine safe injection practices in this setting. These findings highlight the need for evidence-based interventions to address the harms associated with groin injecting including efforts to alert PWID to risks of groin injecting, the distribution of appropriate injecting equipment, and efforts to encourage use of other injecting sites.



  • Barriers and facilitators of hepatitis C screening among people who inject drugs: a multi-city, mixed-methods study

    Posted on January 16th, 2014 TimB No comments

    People who inject drugs (PWID) are at high risk of contracting and transmitting and hepatitis C virus (HCV). While accurate screening tests and effective treatment are increasingly available, prior research indicates that many PWID are unaware of their HCV status.

    The  results suggest that drug-injecting individuals who reside in non-urban settings, who have poor access to primary care, or who have less education may encounter significant barriers to routine HCV screening. Expanded access to primary health care and prevention services, especially in non-urban areas, could address an unmet need for individuals at high risk for HCV.


  • Merchant’s Quay report says homelessness and drugs use on the increase

    Posted on September 6th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Merchant’s Quay Ireland provided more than 76,500 meals last year while its primary healthcare service for homeless people made 3,316 client interventions. The annual report for 2012 of the homeless food service will be launched today by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton.

    It discloses that Merchant’s Quay Ireland’s needle-exchange service in Dublin recorded 20,847 client visits in 2012, up almost 2,000 on 2011.

    Altogether, 3,634 individuals accessed its needle-exchange programme in 2012, of which 558 were new users.

    Outside Dublin, its Midlands Harm Reduction Outreach Service worked with an average 130 clients a month in 2012, providing over 3,000 needle exchange interventions. Across its residential facilities, there was an increase in the number of people from outside Dublin accessing its services.

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  • Strategies to Address HCV Infection Among Young People who use drugs

    Posted on June 7th, 2013 TimB No comments

    The consultation participants recommended several key public health actions including:

    • Create community-led education and messaging strategies on hepatitis C risks, injection transmission risks (e.g., sharing drug preparation equipment in addition to sharing drug injection equipment), and HCV testing resources.
    • Improve and increase infrastructure for HCV surveillance and data collection.
    • Create age-appropriate (e.g., young adult) substance use and hepatitis C interventions and prevention strategies that are evidence based and effective.
    • Expand both community-based and basic science research activities to better understand how to effectively address the emerging crisis of hepatitis C infection among young IDUs.

    Discussions about this issue are ongoing among the participants and other federal and non-federal partners as we collaborate on ways to stem the tide of new HCV infections among young PWID and connect those already living with HCV to care and treatment for their infection and underlying drug use. With heightened awareness of this evolving epidemic and the attention and engagement of partners from across all sectors of society– including the voices of young people– we can make a positive difference in the lives of these young men and women.


  • Three out of four heroin addicts ‘also hooked on other drugs’

    Posted on May 28th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) revealed half of the users at its needle exchange programme injected heroin six times or more times in one week.

    The addiction and homeless charity also found 75% of users took other drugs including the prescribed detox substitute methadone, benzodiazepine tranquilisers, cannabis, alcohol, steroids and cocaine.

    Tony Geoghegan, MQI chief executive, said most detoxification centres are aimed at people who use only a single substance such as heroin.

    “The report confirms people are still using heroin, but polydrug use is now the dominant trend,” he said.

    “This means detox services in Ireland have to match the need. In Ireland there are currently no detox options for this group.”

    There are an estimated 20,000 heroin addicts in Ireland, with 10,000 men and women on a methadone programme and just 38 detox beds nationwide for treatment.

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  • Annual deaths related to heroin and morphine continue to drop in the UK

    Posted on March 8th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Annual deaths related to heroin and morphine are continuing to drop significantly, falling from 41 per cent of total drug-related deaths in the UK in 2010 to 32 per cent in 2011. Meanwhile, deaths from ‘legal highs’ – some of which have now been banned – remained steady following a large increase in the previous year.

    In total, UK drug-related deaths fell by seven per cent from 1,883 in 2010 to 1,757 in 2011, as revealed today (28 February) in the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths (np-SAD) 2012 report. This continues a two-year downward trend that saw deaths fall by 14 per cent from 2009 to 2010.

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  • Drug-related deaths and deaths among drug users in Ireland

    Posted on February 6th, 2013 TimB No comments

    The Irish National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI) is an epidemiological database which records cases of death by drug and alcohol poisoning, and deaths among drug users and those who are alcohol dependent. The  NDRDI is maintained by the Health Research Board (HRB). It is jointly funded by the Department of Health and  the Department of Justice and Equality.

    Alcohol consumption has been reported as the third most detrimental risk factor for ill health and premature death in Europe. Official figures show 2010 recorded the first major drop in drug deaths following a rise in fatalities between 2004 and 2009.

    Dr Suzi Lyons of the Health Research Board said falls in heroin and cocaine deaths were the “main drivers” in the overall reduction in poisonings.

    “The overall trend across Europe is one of reductions in drug deaths. Between 2004 and 2009, we’ve seen numbers of deaths increasing. This is the first major decrease.” She said the figures for 2011 would show if this was a trend or whether 2010 was a one-off. She said a heroin drought in late 2010 could have led to a misleading drop in heroin deaths. She said there had been a “significant drop” in cocaine deaths in recent years, from a high of 66 in 2007 to 20.

    Dr Lyons said alcohol was the country’s biggest problem drug and the one most commonly treated. She said the number of deaths remained “consistently high”.


  • Deaths ‘not due to super-strength heroin’ in Cork

    Posted on January 18th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Fears that super-strength heroin contributed to the deaths of two men in Cork were ruled out yesterday.

    Cork City Coroner’s Court heard that Gary O’Sullivan, aged 30, and Gavin Thompson, aged 26, who died within hours of each other on Oct 4, died from polydrug use, in association with the ingestion of heroin and alcohol.

    Their deaths triggered a major public health alert when medics feared a batch of super-concentrated heroin may have been available on Cork’s streets.

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  • Infectious diseases continue to disproportionately affect drug users

    Posted on November 9th, 2012 TimB No comments

    A report from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has found that half of people who inject drugs are infected with hepatitis C, one in 100 have HIV and a third have a bacterial infection as a result of their injecting. Almost a quarter of younger injectors (those aged under 25) continue to share needles and syringes.

    In 2011, one in six people who inject drugs were found to have been infected with the hepatitis B virus at some point in their lives. This is a large fall from 2001 when over a quarter had been infected. This fall is due to a programme of hepatitis B vaccination which has specifically targeted this group and in 2011, 76 per cent of injectors accepted the vaccination, up from 37 per cent in 2001.

    The report, ‘Shooting Up – Infections among people who inject drugs in the UK 2011’ which was recently published .

    People who inject drugs are vulnerable to a wide range of viral and bacterial infections which can result in a high level of illness and death. The most common viral infections seen in drug users are hepatitis B and C. Both of these cause inflammation of the liver and are caused by contact with infected blood. In drug users this contact is caused by the sharing of needles and syringes and other equipment used in injecting drugs.

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  • Heroin linked to 3 deaths ‘not rogue batch’

    Posted on October 9th, 2012 TimB No comments

    The heroin linked to three deaths in Cork and Dublin is “normal” and not a rogue “super-strength” batch of the drug, tests show.

    Garda and medical sources said the finding underlined the everyday risk facing injecting heroin users, particularly when they take it with other drugs and when their health is very poor.

    The Irish Examiner has learned that tests conducted on heroin samples found they all appeared to be standard street heroin, cut with the usual diluting agents such as paracetamol and caffeine.

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