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Arquivos de Medicina

versão On-line ISSN 2183-2447


TORRE, Carla. Syringe Exchange Programmes in the Context of Harm Reduction. Arq Med [online]. 2009, vol.23, n.3, pp.119-131. ISSN 2183-2447.

Injecting drug users (IDU) are particularly vulnerable to hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other bloodborne infections as result of sharing contaminated injecting equipment. Providing access and encouraging utilization of all sterile injection paraphernalia for IDU is considered a fundamental component of an effective harm reduction programme. Twenty-five years after the implementation of the first official syringe exchange programme (SEP) in the world, providing IDU with access to sterile injection equipment remains a serious challenge in both developed and developing countries. The capacity of any given SEP to reach IDU is dependent on its particular characteristics. SEP are extremely diverse in their modes of operation, injecting equipment dispensation policies and availability of other services provided. Different modalities for improving injecting equipment delivery, such as conventional SEP in fixed-sites, community pharmacy-based distribution, dispensing machines and outreach programmes, have been developed to improve access to and utilization of sterile injecting equipment and to increase IDU choice. Understanding barriers and preferences to SEP access of IDU is essential to providing services which meet their needs.

Palavras-chave : syringe exchange programme; injecting drug users; harm reduction.

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