'Does anyone know where to get fits from around here?' Policy implications for the provision of sterile injecting equipment through pharmacies in Sydney, Australia

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Abstract
Background: Little is known about the factors that influence injecting drug users' (IDUs) choice of outlet, and in particular why some IDUs might prefer to use pharmacies. Greater understanding of the influences on this choice will contribute to more sophisticated policy and programme responses for blood-borne virus prevention and for health and wellbeing programmes for people who inject drugs. Method: In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 IDUs about their experiences of accessing injecting equipment from pharmacies that participated in the government-sponsored pharmacy needle and syringe scheme. Results: A range of factors influenced participants' decisions about equipment access. The advantages of the pharmacy scheme access included convenience, relative anonymity, increased positive feelings of self-worth when accessing equipment from pharmacies where they had a good relationship with staff, less police surveillance and access to a greater range of equipment than available in publicly funded Needle and Syringe Programmes. The disadvantages of pharmacy access included the cost of equipment and complications related to methadone dosing and equipment access. Conclusion: Pharmacy access to injecting equipment is highly valued by IDUs. The results of this study direct attention to several elements of programme and policy in the area that would increase access to equipment from pharmacies relating to cost, need for exchange, police surveillance practices, out-of-hours access and anonymity.
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Treloar, Carla
Hopwood, Maxwell
Bryant, Joanne
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Publication Year
2010
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Journal Article
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