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1.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 80, 2022 Jul 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1957064

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The impact of public health policies during the COVID-19 pandemic on people who inject drugs (PWID) has varied across regions. In other countries, recent research has shown that PWID access to harm reduction services, despite rapid adaptations, has been negatively impacted. Our study describes these impacts in a rural state. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with PWID, community partners, and healthcare providers in the rural state of Maine (USA). We explored how changes made during the pandemic impacted access to harm reduction services, including basic services (i.e., shelter), syringe service programs, safe drug supply, low barrier treatment, and peer support. Interviews were analyzed using the framework method to apply Penchansky's model of access, with Saurman's modification, which includes six dimensions of access-accessibility, availability, acceptability, affordability, accommodation, awareness. RESULTS: We interviewed thirty-six stakeholders (N = 9 community partners, N = 9 healthcare providers, N = 18 PWID). Policies such as mobile outreach expansion, mail delivery of equipment, and relaxed telemedicine regulations facilitated accessibility to syringe service programs and low barrier buprenorphine treatment. Public health policies, such as social distancing and screening policies, reduced contact, which subsequently reduced acceptability and awareness of many services. Elimination of the one-for-one needle exchange in some areas increased, acceptability (i.e., perception of service), and affordability for PWID. However, some areas actually began enforcing a one-for-one needle exchange policy, which reduced affordability, acceptability, and awareness of services. CONCLUSIONS: Changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted all dimensions of access to harm reduction services among PWID. While some barriers to harm reduction services were unavoidable during the pandemic, we found that specific policy decisions mitigated service barriers, while other policies exacerbated them. Relaxing needle exchange policies were particularly helpful in facilitating access to harm reduction services by giving community organizations flexibility to adapt to the evolving needs of PWID. These results can inform policies and service delivery to optimally mitigate the negative impacts on PWID during, and beyond, the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , HIV Infections , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Harm Reduction , Health Services Accessibility , Humans , Needle-Exchange Programs , Pandemics , Pharmaceutical Preparations , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology
2.
J Int AIDS Soc ; 25(7): e25960, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1925944

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to diminish gains in HIV epidemic control and impacts are likely most profound among key populations in resource-limited settings. We aimed to understand the pandemic's impact on HIV-related service utilization among men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs (PWID) across India. METHODS: Beginning in 2013, we established integrated care centres (ICCs) which provide HIV preventive and treatment services to MSM and PWID across 15 Indian sites. We examined utilization patterns for an 18-month period covering 2 months preceding the pandemic (January-February 2020) and over the first and second COVID-19 waves in India (March 2020-June 2021). We assessed: (1) unique clients accessing any ICC service, (2) ICC services provided, (3) unique clients tested for HIV and (4) HIV diagnoses and test positivity. Among an established cohort of PWID/MSM living with HIV (PLHIV), we administered a survey on the pandemic's impact on HIV care and treatment (June-August 2020). RESULTS: Overall, 13,854 unique clients visited an ICC from January 2020 to June 2021. In January/February 2020, the average monthly number of clients was 3761. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the number of clients receiving services declined sharply in March 2020, dropping to 25% of pre-pandemic levels in April/May 2020 (first wave), followed by a slow rebound until April/May 2021 (second wave), when there was a 57% decline. HIV testing followed a similar trajectory. HIV test positivity changed over time, declining in the first wave and reaching its nadir around July 2020 at ∼50% of pre-pandemic levels. Positivity then increased steadily, eventually becoming higher than pre-pandemic periods. The second wave was associated with a decline in positivity for MSM but was relatively unchanged for PWID. Among 1650 PLHIV surveyed, 52% of PWID and 45% of MSM reported the pandemic impacted their ability to see an HIV provider. MSM had barriers accessing sexually transmitted infection testing and partner HIV testing. CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic led to significant decreases in HIV-related service utilization among key populations in India. This presents an opportunity for increased transmission and patients presenting with advanced disease among groups already disproportionately impacted by HIV.


Subject(s)
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome , COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Sexual and Gender Minorities , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Cities , HIV Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/drug therapy , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Homosexuality, Male , Humans , India/epidemiology , Male , Pandemics/prevention & control , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications
3.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 47, 2022 05 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1910327

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) exacerbated risks for adverse health consequences among people who inject drugs by reducing access to sterile injection equipment, HIV testing, and syringe services programs (SSPs). Several decades of research demonstrate the public health benefits of SSP implementation; however, existing evidence primarily reflects studies conducted in metropolitan areas and before the COVID-19 pandemic. OBJECTIVES: We aim to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic affected SSP operations in rural Kentucky counties. METHODS: In late 2020, we conducted eighteen in-depth, semi-structured interviews with persons (10 women, 8 men) involved in SSP implementation in rural Kentucky counties. The interview guide broadly explored the barriers and facilitators to SSP implementation in rural communities; participants were also asked to describe how COVID-19 affected SSP operations. RESULTS: Participants emphasized the need to continue providing SSP-related services throughout the pandemic. COVID-19 mitigation strategies (e.g., masking, social distancing, pre-packing sterile injection equipment) limited relationship building between staff and clients and, more broadly, the pandemic adversely affected overall program expansion, momentum building, and coalition building. However, participants offered multiple examples of innovative solutions to the myriad of obstacles the pandemic presented. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic impacted SSP operations throughout rural Kentucky. Despite challenges, participants reported that providing SSP services remained paramount. Diverse adaptative strategies were employed to ensure continuation of essential SSP services, demonstrating the commitment and ingenuity of program staff. Given that SSPs are essential for preventing adverse injection drug use-associated health consequences, further resources should be invested in SSP operations to ensure service delivery is not negatively affected by co-occurring crises.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Female , Humans , Kentucky/epidemiology , Male , Needle-Exchange Programs , Pandemics/prevention & control , Rural Population , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes
4.
Glob Health Sci Pract ; 10(2)2022 04 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1897171

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and resulting lockdowns have disrupted health care service delivery globally. This includes disruptions in harm reduction and HIV service delivery for people who inject drugs (PWID), a population at high risk for not only COVID-19 but also poor HIV and drug-treatment access. However, little is known about these issues in Kazakhstan. We examined harm reduction provider experiences with delivering services and regulatory changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: We conducted in-depth interviews with 24 nurses, social workers, and doctors serving both HIV-positive and HIV-negative PWID at 13 needle and syringe programs (NSPs) and 4 AIDS Centers (HIV treatments centers) in Kazakhstan from May to August 2020. Participants were asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted their PWID clients' risks, their organizational environment, and the services offered to PWID over the prior 3-6 months. Thematic content analysis was used to elicit findings. FINDINGS: The COVID-19 pandemic considerably impacted NSP and AIDS Center operations. Participants perceived high risks of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection for themselves and their clients, as well as pandemic-related increases in substance use and HIV risks for clients. Organizations instituted several policy and regulatory changes to adapt to the pandemic, most notably tasking NSPs with delivering HIV medications; these changes necessitated new roles and responsibilities for many providers. Despite this stressful changing environment and increased service demands, participants still shared examples of persistence and resilience as they worked to meet client needs during these challenging times. DISCUSSION: NSPs in Kazakhstan are well-positioned to reach key populations with crucial information and flexible services during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they need recognition as essential organizations and additional equipment and staff support to protect staff and clients, maintain pandemic-related regulatory changes, and address additional challenges such as overdose prevention among clients.


Subject(s)
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome , COVID-19 , Drug Users , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Continuity of Patient Care , Humans , Kazakhstan/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pharmaceutical Preparations , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/therapy
6.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 237: 109540, 2022 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1894967

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Syringe services programs (SSPs) are an important venue for reaching people who inject drugs (PWID) to offer preventive services; however, not all SSPs offer vaccinations. We aimed to describe barriers and opportunities for SSPs to offer vaccinations. METHODS: During June-August 2021, we conducted a descriptive, cross-sectional survey of SSP providers in the United States. SSPs were recruited from national listservs using purposive sampling to ensure geographic diversity. The survey included questions about SSP characteristics, client demographics, existing vaccination resources, resource needs, and staff perspectives on client vaccination barriers. Statistical comparisons were made using Pearson's chi-square test. RESULTS: In total, 105 SSPs from 34 states responded to the survey; 46 SSPs (43.8%) offered on-site vaccinations. SSPs without on-site vaccinations were more likely operated by community-based organizations (81.4% vs 30.4%, p < 0.001) in urban areas (71.4% vs 40.0%, p = 0.002) than SSPs offering on-site vaccinations. The most common staffing need was for personnel licensed to administer vaccines (74/98, 75.5%). Over half of SSPs reported vaccine supply, administration supplies, storage equipment, and systems to follow-up clients for multidose series as important resource needs. The most common resource need was for reminder/recall systems for vaccines with multidose series (75/92, 81.5%). Vaccine safety concerns (92/95, 96.8%) and competing priorities (92/96, 95.8%) were the most common staff-reported client barriers to vaccinations. CONCLUSIONS: Addressing missed opportunities for offering vaccinations to PWID who use SSPs will require increased numbers of on-site personnel licensed to administer vaccines and additional training, vaccination supplies, and storage and handling equipment.


Subject(s)
Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Vaccines , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , Needle-Exchange Programs , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes , United States , Vaccination
7.
Aust N Z J Public Health ; 46(4): 524-526, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1886633

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Automatic syringe dispensing machines (ADM) have become an important adjunct to Australia's needle and syringe programs (NSP). However, concerns that they reduce face-to-face contact with health staff and other health interventions remain. We examined changes in the number of needle/syringes dispensed at an ADM and occasions of service at a co-located face-to-face NSP and targeted primary healthcare clinic during the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions. METHODS: We reviewed data from an inner-city harm reduction program during the study period of April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year. Multivariable linear regression models were used to estimate the association between occasions of service and equipment distribution. RESULTS: ADM-dispensed equipment increased significantly by 41.1%, while face-to-face NSP occasions decreased by 16.2%. Occasions provided by the targeted primary healthcare clinic increased by 59.7% per month. CONCLUSION: We have shown that 24-hour ADM access did not adversely affect the number of people using targeted primary healthcare when provided within close proximity. Implication for public health: These findings reinforce the demand for 24-hour needle/syringe access and can be used to support the expanded access to ADMs, especially where people who inject drugs (PWID) have access to appropriate healthcare.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Needle-Exchange Programs , Primary Health Care , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes
8.
Harm Reduct J ; 19(1): 59, 2022 06 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875013

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) may be at elevated risk of adverse outcomes from SARS-CoV-2 infection; however, data on COVID-19 vaccine uptake among PWID are scarce. This study aimed to determine COVID-19 vaccine uptake among PWID, identify factors associated with sub-optimal uptake, and compare uptake to the general population. METHODS: The Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey is an annual sentinel surveillance project, comprising a self-completed questionnaire and provision of a dried blood sample for HIV and HCV testing. In 2021, respondents provided information on their COVID-19 vaccination status. Multivariate logistic regression models identified correlates of vaccine uptake. RESULTS: Among 1166 respondents, 49% had been vaccinated and in most states and territories, vaccine uptake was significantly lower than among the general population. Independent predictors of vaccine uptake were longer duration of vaccine eligibility (AOR 3.42, 95% CI 2.65, 4.41); prior SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic testing (AOR 2.90, 95% CI 2.22, 3.79); injection of opioids (AOR 1.91, 95% CI 1.20, 3.05); and current opioid agonist therapy (AOR 1.70, 95% CI 1.23, 2.33). Women (AOR 0.70, 95% CI 0.54, 0.92) and those who reported daily or more frequent injection (AOR 0.75, 95% CI 0.57, 1.00) were significantly less likely to be vaccinated. CONCLUSIONS: In most Australian states and territories, uptake of COVID-19 vaccine among PWID lagged uptake among the general population. Increased efforts are required to ensure PWID have equitable access to vaccination. Vaccination programmes within harm reduction services and via outreach, coupled with increased support for peers to act as vaccine champions, are likely to reduce barriers and improve COVID-19 vaccine uptake in this population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Australia/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Female , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Vaccination
10.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(9)2022 04 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1820230

ABSTRACT

People who inject drugs (PWID) are a population that disproportionately struggles with economic and mental health challenges. However, despite numerous reports of people globally experiencing new or exacerbated economic and/or mental health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the literature on the effect of the pandemic on PWID and their risk for harm (e.g., overdose) remains sparse. The present study will describe reported changes during the pandemic in risk factors for drug overdose (including changes in mental health symptoms and care access) among PWID in Chicago, and it will examine associations between such risk factor changes and the experience of economic challenges during the pandemic. Participants from an ongoing longitudinal study of young PWID from the Chicago suburbs and their injection risk network members (N = 138; mean age = 28.7 years) were interviewed about changes in their experiences, substance use behavior, and mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bivariate cross tabulations were computed of each "overdose risk factor" with experiences of economic challenges during the pandemic. Fisher's Exact Tests were used to assess statistical significance. Adjusted logistic regression models were also conducted that controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, for time elapsed since the start of the pandemic, and for pre-pandemic income, homelessness, and injection frequency. Over half of our sample reported using alone more than usual during the pandemic, and over 40% reported using more than usual and/or buying drugs that were of a decreased purity or quality. Additionally, a large proportion of our sample (52.5% of those asked) reported more difficulty than usual accessing mental health care. Experiencing loss of a source of income during the pandemic was associated with using more drugs, using alone more, using a larger amount of drugs while using alone, wanting to stop using but being unable, and difficulty accessing mental health care. The preliminary associations found by the present study suggest that economic challenges or disruptions experienced during the pandemic are likely to increase risk for overdose among PWID experiencing such challenges, via changes in the above behaviors and/or conditions that are associated with risk for overdose. Intervention efforts should therefore be focused not only directly on overdose prevention, but also on assisting PWID with their economic challenges and helping them regain economic stability and access to services that may have been impeded by financial difficulty.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Overdose , Drug Users , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Drug Overdose/epidemiology , Drug Users/psychology , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Mental Health , Pandemics , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications
11.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 842, 2022 04 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1817210

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) are vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection. We examined correlates of COVID-19 testing among PWID in the U.S.-Mexico border region and described encounters with services representing potential opportunities (i.e., 'touchpoints') where COVID-19 testing could have been offered. METHODS: Between October, 2020 and September, 2021, participants aged ≥18 years from San Diego, California, USA and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico who injected drugs within the last month completed surveys and SARS-CoV-2, HIV, and HCV serologic testing. Logistic regression identified factors associated with COVID-19 testing including potential touchpoints, comorbidities and COVID-19 related misinformation and disinformation. RESULTS: Of 583 PWID, 30.5% previously had a COVID-19 test. Of 172 PWID who tested SARS-CoV-2 seropositive (30.1%), 50.3% encountered at least one touchpoint where COVID-19 testing could have been offered within the prior six months. Factors independently associated with at least two fold higher odds of COVID-19 testing were living in San Diego, recent incarceration, receiving substance use treatment, and experiencing ≥1 chronic health condition. Homelessness, having received ≥1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and having a HIV or HCV test since the COVID-19 epidemic began were also independently associated with having had a prior COVID-19 test. CONCLUSION: We identified several factors independently associated with COVID-19 testing and multiple touchpoints where COVID-19 testing could be scaled up for PWID, such as SUD treatment programs and syringe service programs. Integrated health services are needed to improve access to rapid, free COVID-19 testing in this vulnerable population.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , HIV Infections , Hepatitis C , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , COVID-19 Vaccines , Cross-Sectional Studies , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Hepatitis C/complications , Humans , Mexico/epidemiology , Prevalence , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology
12.
Front Public Health ; 9: 744179, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1775909

ABSTRACT

Outbreaks of wound botulism are rare, but clinicians and health departments should maintain suspicion for signs, symptoms, and risk factors of wound botulism among persons who inject drugs in order to initiate treatment quickly. This report describes an outbreak of three wound botulism cases among persons in two adjacent counties who injected drugs. Provisional information about these cases was previously published in the CDC National Botulism Surveillance Summary. All three cases in this outbreak were laboratory-confirmed, including one case with detection of botulinum toxin type A in a wound culture sample taken 43 days after last possible heroin exposure. Findings highlight the delay in diagnosis which led to prolonged hospitalization and the persistence of botulinum toxin in one patient.


Subject(s)
Botulism , Drug Users , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Wound Infection , Botulism/diagnosis , Botulism/epidemiology , Botulism/etiology , Heroin/adverse effects , Humans , New Mexico , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Wound Infection/chemically induced , Wound Infection/epidemiology
14.
Public Health Rep ; 137(3): 573-579, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1724143

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: People who inject drugs (PWID) are especially vulnerable to morbidity and mortality as a result of SARS-CoV-2 infection because of social and physical health vulnerabilities. Routine testing for SARS-CoV-2 is critical to reduce transmission. Contingency management-the provision of tangible rewards to reinforce positive behavior-can promote the use of health services among PWID. Evidence is scarce on the utility of contingency management to promote SARS-CoV-2 testing. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of contingency management to increase testing among PWID. METHODS: SARS-CoV-2 testing was implemented at 9 syringe exchange program sites in partnership with an Oregon-based nonprofit organization for 5 weeks without contingency management and for 6 weeks with contingency management (a $10 financial incentive for testing) from February 1 through mid-April 2021. We measured rates of testing among syringe exchange program clients before and after implementation of contingency management. RESULTS: Before contingency management, SARS-CoV-2 testing occurred during approximately 131 of 1410 (9.3%) client encounters, and 123 of 997 (12.3%) unique clients were tested. During contingency management, testing occurred during approximately 571 of 1756 (32.5%) client encounters, and 407 of 1151 (35.4%) unique clients were tested. Rates of testing increased from 0.04 (SD, 0.04) before contingency management implementation to 0.25 (SD, 0.15) after implementation (t8 = -3.88; P = .005; Cohen d = 1.46). CONCLUSIONS: Contingency management facilitated uptake of SARS-CoV-2 testing among PWID. Contingency management may be an effective strategy for improving communicable disease testing beyond testing for SARS-CoV-2 and for improving vaccine uptake among PWID and warrants additional research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Testing , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications
15.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 232: 109263, 2022 Mar 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1719618

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has likely affected the delivery of interventions to prevent blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among people who inject drugs (PWID). We examined the impact of the first wave of COVID-19 in Scotland on: 1) needle and syringe provision (NSP), 2) opioid agonist therapy (OAT) and 3) BBV testing. METHODS: An interrupted time series study design; 23rd March 2020 (date of the first 'lockdown') was chosen as the key date. RESULTS: The number of HIV tests and HCV tests in drug services/prisons, and the number of needles/syringes (N/S) distributed decreased by 94% (RR=0.062, 95% CI 0.041-0.094, p < 0.001), 95% (RR=0.049, 95% CI 0.034-0.069, p < 0.001) and 18% (RR = 0.816, 95% CI 0.750-0.887, p < 0.001), respectively, immediately after lockdown. Post-lockdown, an increasing trend was observed relating to the number of N/S distributed (0.6%; RR = 1.006, 95% CI 1.001-1.012, p = 0.015), HIV tests (12.1%; RR = 1.121, 95% CI 1.092-1.152, p < 0.001) and HCV tests (13.2%; RR = 1.132, 95 CI 1.106-1.158, p < 0.001). Trends relating to the total amount of methadone prescribed remained stable, but a decreasing trend in the number of prescriptions (2.4%; RR = 0.976, 95% CI 0.959-0.993, p = 0.006) and an increasing trend in the quantity prescribed per prescription (2.8%; RR = 1.028, 95% CI 1.013-1.042, p < 0.001) was observed post-lockdown. CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 impacted the delivery of BBV prevention services for PWID in Scotland. While there is evidence of service recovery; further effort is likely required to return some intervention coverage to pre-pandemic levels in the context of subsequent waves of COVID-19.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , HIV Infections , Pharmaceutical Preparations , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control , HIV Infections/epidemiology , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Humans , Interrupted Time Series Analysis , SARS-CoV-2 , Scotland/epidemiology , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/rehabilitation
16.
Drug Alcohol Depend ; 232: 109323, 2022 03 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1670416

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: This study describes harm reduction and health services provided by U.S syringe services programs (SSPs) in 2019 and changes in provision of those services in 2020. METHODS: SSPs were invited to participate in the Dave Purchase Memorial survey in August 2020. We collected programmatic data on services provided in 2019 and at the time of the survey in 2020. We conducted descriptive analyses using Chi-square and McNemar's tests. RESULTS: At the time of the survey, > 60% of SSPs reported increased monthly syringe and naloxone distribution and expansion of home-based and mail-based naloxone delivery in Fall 2020 compared to 2019. Approximately three-quarters of SSPs decreased or stopped providing on-site HIV and HCV testing. Nearly half of SSPs offering on-site medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in 2019 increased provision of MOUD in 2020. The proportion of SSPs offering on-site mental health care services and primary care services statistically significantly decreased from 2019 to Fall 2020, but telehealth offerings of these services increased. CONCLUSIONS: Many SSPs that offered health services in 2019 and remained operational in 2020 increased telehealth provision of mental health and primary care services, increased MOUD provision, and expanded harm reduction services, but most SSPs reduced or stopped on-site HIV and HCV testing. Sustaining SSP growth and innovation is paramount for preventing overdose deaths and HIV/HCV outbreaks after the deadliest year of the opioid epidemic in 2020.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/prevention & control , Harm Reduction , Health Services , Humans , Needle-Exchange Programs , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes
17.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep ; 71(2): 66-68, 2022 Jan 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1622892

ABSTRACT

During October 2019, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (WVBPH) noted that an increasing number of persons who inject drugs (PWID) in Kanawha County received a diagnosis of HIV. The number of HIV diagnoses among PWID increased from less than five annually during 2016-2018 to 11 during January-October 2019 (Figure). Kanawha County (with an approximate population of 180,000*) has high rates of opioid use disorder and overdose deaths, which have been increasing since 2016,† and the county is located near Cabell County, which experienced an HIV outbreak among PWID during 2018-2019 (1,2). In response to the increase in HIV diagnoses among PWID in 2019, WVBPH released a Health Advisory§; and WVBPH and Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) convened an HIV task force, conducted care coordination meetings, received CDC remote assistance to support response activities, and expanded HIV testing and outreach.


Subject(s)
Disease Outbreaks , Drug Users , HIV Infections/epidemiology , Adult , Female , Humans , Male , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , West Virginia/epidemiology
18.
J Assoc Nurses AIDS Care ; 33(3): 348-352, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1621701

ABSTRACT

ABSTRACT: People who inject drugs often have a higher prevalence of risk factors associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and associated morbidity and mortality, compounded by challenges in health care access. This increased vulnerability underscores the critical need to prioritize people who inject drug in ongoing COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Co-location of syringe services, COVID-19 vaccination services, and other communicable disease testing has proved an effective model to provide necessary interventions without creating additional barriers. Here, we describe a partnership between the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins Mobile Vaccine Unit, and the Center for Infectious Disease and Nursing Innovation at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing to provide COVID-19 vaccination, HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing, wound care, and linkage to care services co-located with a long-running syringe services program. We describe the services offered by each partner and lessons learned from this community-based co-location of services initiative.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , HIV Infections/prevention & control , Humans , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/complications , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes , Vaccination
19.
Int J Drug Policy ; 101: 103570, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587942

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Healthcare delivery was disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring minimized in-person contact between patients and clinicians. During the pandemic, people with opioid use disorder (OUD) were not only at elevated risk for COVID-19, but had markedly reduced access to treatment for OUD, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV due to recommended decreased in-person visits. METHODS: From March 15-June 15, 2020 at the syringe services program (SSP) in New Haven, Connecticut, USA, a differentiated care model evolved with reduced clinical demands on people who inject drugs (PWID) to ensure screening and treatment for HCV, HIV and OUD, with a focus on HCV treatment. This model involved a single, bundled screening, evaluation, testing (SET) and monitoring strategy for all three conditions, minimal in-person visits, followed by tele-health communication between patients, outreach workers and clinicians. In-person visits occurred only during induction onto methadone and phlebotomy at baseline and phlebotomy 12 weeks post-treatment for HCV to measure sustained virological response (SVR). Patients received supportive texts/calls from outreach workers and clinicians. RESULTS: Overall, 66 actively injecting PWID, all with OUD, underwent bundled laboratory screening; 35 had chronic HCV infection. Participants were 40 years (mean), mostly white (N = 18) men (N = 28) and 12 were unstably housed. Two were lost to-follow-up and 2 were incarcerated, leaving 31 who started pan-genotypic direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). The mean time from referral to initial phlebotomy and initiation of DAAs was 6.9 and 9.9 days, respectively. Fourteen additional patients were newly started on buprenorphine and 6 started on methadone; three and four, respectively, were on treatment at baseline. Overall, 29 (93.5%) PWID who initiated DAAs achieved SVR; among unstably housed persons the SVR was 83.3%. CONCLUSIONS: In response to COVID-19, an innovative differentiated care model for PWID at an SSP evolved that included successful co-treatment for HCV, HIV and OUD using a client-centered approach that reduces treatment demands on patients yet supports ongoing access to evidence-based treatments.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Drug Users , Hepatitis C, Chronic , Hepatitis C , Opioid-Related Disorders , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Telemedicine , Antiviral Agents , Hepacivirus , Hepatitis C/drug therapy , Hepatitis C/epidemiology , Hepatitis C, Chronic/drug therapy , Humans , Male , Opioid-Related Disorders/drug therapy , Opioid-Related Disorders/therapy , Pandemics , Pharmaceutical Preparations , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology , Syringes
20.
Harm Reduct J ; 18(1): 118, 2021 11 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1533260

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: While people who inject drugs (PWID) are vulnerable to the adverse outcomes of events like COVID-19, little is known regarding the impact of the current pandemic on PWID. We examine how COVID-19 has affected PWID in New York City across four domains: substance use, risk behaviors, mental health, and service utilization. METHODS: As part of a randomized trial to improve access to HCV treatment for PWID, we recruited 165 participants. Eligibility criteria included detectable HCV RNA and recent drug injection. The present cross-sectional analysis is based on a subsample of 106 participants. We compared responses between two separate samples: 60 participants interviewed prior to the pandemic (pre-COVID-19 sample) and 46 participants interviewed during the pandemic (COVID-19 sample). We also assessed differences by study group [accessible care (AC) and usual care (UC)]. RESULTS: Compared to the pre-COVID-19 sample, those interviewed during COVID-19 reported higher levels of mental health issues, syringe reuse, and alcohol consumption and greater reductions in syringe-service programs and buprenorphine utilization. In the analysis conducted by study group, the UC group reported significantly higher injection risk behaviors and lower access to buprenorphine treatment during COVID-19, while during the same period, the AC group reported lower levels of substance use and injection risk behaviors. CONCLUSION: The current study provides insight on how COVID-19 has negatively affected PWID. Placing dispensing machines of harm-reduction supplies in communities where PWID live and increasing secondary exchange, mobile services, and mail delivery of supplies may help maintain access to lifesaving supplies during big events, such as COVID-19. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03214679. Registered July 11 2017. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03214679 .


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , HIV Infections , Pharmaceutical Preparations , Substance Abuse, Intravenous , Cross-Sectional Studies , Humans , New York City/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology
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