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Estimating national-level syringe availability to injecting drug users and injection coverage: Switzerland, 1996-2006.
International Journal on Drug Policy
BACKGROUND: Measuring syringe availability and coverage is essential in the assessment of HIV/AIDS risk reduction policies. Estimates of syringe availability and coverage were produced for the years 1996 and 2006, based on all relevant available national-level aggregated data from published sources. METHODS: We defined availability as the total monthly number of syringes provided by harm reduction system divided by the estimated number of injecting drug users (IDU), and defined coverage as the proportion of injections performed with a new syringe, at national level (total supply over total demand). Estimates of supply of syringes were derived from the national monitoring system, including needle and syringe programmes (NSP), pharmacies, and medically prescribed heroin programmes. Estimates of syringe demand were based on the number of injections performed by IDU derived from surveys of low threshold facilities for drug users (LTF) with NSP combined with the number of IDU. This number was estimated by two methods combining estimates of heroin users (multiple estimation method) and (a) the number of IDU in methadone treatment (MT) (non-injectors) or (b) the proportion of injectors amongst LTF attendees. Central estimates and ranges were obtained for availability and coverage. RESULTS: The estimated number of IDU decreased markedly according to both methods. The MT-based method (from 14,818 to 4809) showed a much greater decrease and smaller size of the IDU population compared to the LTF-based method (from 24,510 to 12,320). Availability and coverage estimates are higher with the MT-based method. For 1996, central estimates of syringe availability were 30.5 and 18.4 per IDU per month; for 2006, they were 76.5 and 29.9. There were 4 central estimates of coverage. For 1996 they ranged from 24.3% to 43.3%, and for 2006, from 50.5% to 134.3%. CONCLUSION: Although 2006 estimates overlap 1996 estimates, the results suggest a shift to improved syringe availability and coverage over time.
Epidemiologic Methods, HIV Infections/prevention & control*, HIV Infections/transmission, Harm Reduction, Heroin Dependence/complications, Heroin Dependence/epidemiology, Humans, National Health Programs/statistics & numerical data*, Needle-Exchange Programs/statistics & numerical data*, Risk Reduction Behavior, Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications*, Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology, Switzerland/epidemiology, Syringes/supply & distribution
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