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  • Injection of new psychoactive substance snow blow associated with recently acquired HIV infections among homeless people who inject drugs in Dublin, Ireland, 2015

    Posted on October 9th, 2015 TimB No comments

    In February 2015, the Department of Public Health (DPH), Health Service Executive (HSE) in Dublin, Ireland, identified an unexpected increase in cases of acute HIV infection among people who inject drugs (PWID); three cases were diagnosed p24 antigen-positive in January and February 2015, compared with two cases diagnosed during the whole year in 2014 [1]. Drug treatment clinicians had also identified increased use of a new psychoactive substance (NPS) alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (?-PVP), known as snow blow, which was being used by ‘chaotic’ PWID, and which they suspected might be linked to the increase [2]. Clinicians defined the chaotic group as homeless PWID who, if on opioid substitution treatment (OST), required daily attendance at their treatment programme, due to continued use of a variety of other illicit substances in an intensive or chaotic way. We undertook an epidemiological investigation to identify the likely source of this increase.


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  • ECDC–EMCDDA Special Report – Thematic report: People who inject drugs

    Posted on September 11th, 2015 TimB No comments


    This report, which is based on data provided by countries for reporting on the Dublin Declaration, summarises key issues related to HIV and people who inject drugs (PWID) in Europe and Central Asia. It identifies priority options for action to improve the HIV response for this population.


  • HIV and Injecting Drug Use

    Posted on July 10th, 2013 TimB No comments

    A significant increase in the number of gay men injecting drugs and people injecting Image and Performance-Enhancing Drugs could lead to increasing levels of HIV, warns the National AIDS Trust today (6 July 2013).

    NAT report ‘HIV and Injecting Drug Use’, based on the evidence of a number of experts in drugs and blood-borne viruses, found these newer injecting practices risk undermining the successfully low rates of HIV amongst injecting drug users (1.2%)

    New injecting trends amongst gay men

    The report found gay men are increasing using newer drugs, such as crystal meth, mephedrone and GHB/GBL, often sharing needles and using drugs in the context of risky sexual behaviour.

    At one key service in London, 85% of gay men now report using one or more of these three drugs compared only 3% in 2005.

    Yusef Azad, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, said: “We are currently failing gay men who have problems with drug use and safer sex.  There are few services which understand their specific needs and these services are massively overstretched.  We need drugs and sexual health services work together to meet the needs of gay men, reduce problematic drug use and reduce HIV and hepatitis C transmissions linked to drug use.”

    Other new drugs being injected – steroids and tanning agents

    The report also highlights the rise in injecting of what are known as Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs (IPEDs) such as steroids or tanning agents.

    This poses a significant HIV risk as these newer injectors may not understand safe injecting practices. There is evidence of elevated HIV and hepatitis rates amongst steroid injectors.

    Yusef Azad Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT, said: “NAT’s 2010 survey of public knowledge and attitudes to HIV found only 45% of the general public knew HIV can be transmitted through sharing injecting equipment.  If newer communities are starting to inject drugs, there is an urgent task to ensure health promotion and harm reduction messages reach these groups.  Otherwise there will be new transmissions of HIV and hepatitis B and C.”

    The report also criticised worrying comments made by the Government last year about maintaining people on OST (Opioid Substitution Therapy) – a key element in harm reduction.  It also called on the Government to tackle the high death rates amongst injecting drug users. People who inject drugs and who also have HIV have a death rate twenty times higher than the rest of the population.


  • Prevalence of, and risk factors for, human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections among men who inject image and performance enhancing drugs in England & Wales.

    Posted on April 23rd, 2013 TimB No comments

    Dr Vivian Hope of Public Health England told the British HIV Association conference yesterday that injection of image- and performance-enhancing drugs is rising in England and Wales. Moreover, his research suggests that men may be acquiring bloodborne viruses through this route – 1.5% had antibodies to HIV, 8.8% had antibodies to hepatitis B and 5.5% to hepatitis C.

    Dr Hope said that across the world, only three previous studies have been conducted on HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs which are taken to enhance body image, physical strength or performance. One of these three was conducted in the UK in the mid-1990s and did not find any HIV infections in those surveyed.

    There are reports of increased numbers of people injecting these drugs who present to needle and syringe exchanges. However, not all syringe exchanges have the skills and experience to meet their needs. The injecting process is different to that of opiates ­– these drugs are normally delivered in a sealed vial, and are not usually injected into a vein, but into a muscle or beneath the skin.

    Moreover, the social profile of injectors of image- and performance-enhancing drugs is different to that of opiate injectors – younger, more likely to be employed, less likely to have had problems with the criminal justice system.

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  • Are major reductions in new HIV infections possible with people who inject drugs? The case for low dead-space syringes in highly affected countries

    Posted on January 16th, 2013 TimB No comments

    Circumstantial evidence from laboratory studies, mathematical models, ecological studies and bio behavioural surveys, suggests that injection-related HIV epidemics may be averted or reversed if people who inject drugs (PWID) switch from using high dead-space to using low dead-space syringes. In laboratory experiments that simulated the injection process and rinsing with water, low dead space
    syringes retained 1000 times less blood than high dead space syringes. In mathematical models, switching PWID from high dead space to low dead space syringes prevents or reverses injection-related HIV epidemics.

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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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  • HIV among people who inject drugs in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a systematic review with implications for policy

    Posted on October 31st, 2012 TimB No comments

    HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) is a major public health concern in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia. HIV transmission in this group is growing and over 27 000 HIV cases were diagnosed among PWID in 2010 alone. The objective of this systematic review was to examine risk factors associated with HIV prevalence among PWID in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia and to describe the response to HIV in this population and the policy environments in which they live.


  • Quarterly Report on HIV, Quarter 2, 2012 – Ireland

    Posted on September 14th, 2012 TimB No comments

    This report presents data on new HIV diagnoses notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in Quarter 2 2012. Since 1 st January, 2012, HIV cases have been reported to HPSC on a weekly basis using the Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting (CIDR) system. HIV data for this report were extracted from the CIDR system on 7 th August 2012. A detailed annual HIV report will be published in 2013.
    Key Points – Quarter 2 2012

    •  There were 68 new diagnoses of HIV infection notified to the HPSC in Quarter 2 2012.
    • Of the 68 new diagnoses in Quarter 2 31 (45.6%) were men who have sex with men (MSM), 21 (30.9%) were heterosexuals and 1
    • (1.5%) was an Injecting Drug User (IDU). No Mother to Child Transmission (MTCT) cases were reported in Quarter 2.    71% (48) were male and 29% (20) were female.
    •  Median age was 34 years (range 19?71 years).
    • The total number of new HIV diagnoses notified in Quarter 1&2 2012 is 157.   Up to the 30 th August, 2012, 114 enhanced forms (72%) had been received by Departments of Public Health


  • Oral substitution treatment of injecting opioid users for prevention of HIV infection (Review)

    Posted on September 7th, 2012 TimB No comments

    Injecting drug users are vulnerable to infection with HIV and other blood borne viruses as a result of collective use of injecting equipment as well as sexual behaviour.

    This review looks at original studies that reported the frequency or prevalence of risk behaviours, or information on HIV infection related to substitution treatment of opioid dependence to assess the extent to which oral substitution treatment prevents the transmission of HIV infection. It was not possible to accurately estimate the extent of reduction, but it is clear that oral substitution treatment reduces risk behaviours and also the probability of HIV infection amongst injecting drug users in substitution treatment.


  • HIV and Sexual Health in Ireland

    Posted on July 11th, 2012 TimB No comments

    In this video workers from Dublin Aids Alliance talk about the work they do with those individuals and families who have HIV also at the same time highlighting the awareness of HIV and sexual health issues within the wider society.

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