News

Injecting drugs: important issues and urgent responses required.

Tracy Parish

20 March, 2013

News   creidu hepatitis nsw article march 2013  510 x 288

Image reproduced courtesy of Hepatitis NSW

People who inject drugs experience the highest level of stigma of all drug users according to Burnet and CREIDU researcher, Trevor King.

Writing in the latest edition of Hepatitis NSW’s “Hep Review” magazine, Mr King said the NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU) had identified a number of key areas where policy and practive change is urgently included.

Here is an excerpt of the article which is also available on Hepatitis NSW’s online magazine.

People who inject drugs (PWID) experience the highest level of stigma of all drug users. They often experience a wide range of co-occurring health and social problems but typically have limited access to the services they need.

The NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence into Injecting Drug Use (CREIDU) was established to improve the health of people who inject drugs by generating new knowledge and effectively translating this into policy and practice.

CREIDU has identified a number of key areas where policy and practice change is urgently needed. To inform change, leading researchers have developed a series of policy briefs that provide a review of the research evidence and “actionable messages” for policy or practice change.

The briefs address issues such as improved medication regimes for hep C treatment; improving access to hep C treatment; increasing the low rate of hep B vaccination; reducing opioid overdose through naloxone distribution; and reducing individual and public harms by establishing supervised injecting facilities.

The most recently developed briefs consider the issues confronted by PWID who are imprisoned. Dr Mark Stoové from Burnet’s Centre for Population Health reviews the evidence showing that about half of all prisoners in Australia have a history of drug injecting. They typically have poor general health, high rates of blood-borne viruses and poor access to services to keep them safe (such as needle and syringe programs) and to treat their conditions.

Associate Professor Stuart Kinner, formerly of Burnet and now with the University of Melbourne, reviews the evidence showing that release from prison is a particularly vulnerable time for people who have a history of drug injection. The risk of overdose death, recidivism and poor general health outcomes requires urgent attention. He argues for the commencement of opioid maintenance treatment in prison with seamless transition to community programs, and the provision of naloxone to reduce overdose deaths. He also identifies the lack of good quality research necessary to guide policy and practice improvement.

The policy brief series is available on the CREIDU website

CREIDU is a collaboration between the Burnet Institute, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the Kirby Institute, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, the National Drug Research Institute, the University of Queensland, the Australian National University, the University of Melbourne, ANEX, Harm Reduction Victoria and Hepatitis Victoria.

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Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Paul Dietze

Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks

Telephone

+61392822134

Email

paul.dietze@burnet.edu.au

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