Funder: Gilead Foundation
Project period: 09/01/2006 - 06/30/2008
Grant Type: Research
Over 50% of HIV/AIDS cases in Connecticut (epicenters of New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport) can be attributed to injection drug use (IDU). One of the best means to reduce HIV transmission among drug users is to establish syringe exchange programs (SEPs) where they exchange used syringes and needles for clean ones. A recent Office of National Drug Control Policy household survey revealed that over 60% of people that use illicit drugs have full time jobs and are, therefore, not reachable by the current SEP hours of operation. Preliminary studies suggest that the percentage of the injection drug using population being reached by SEPs in New Haven is significantly less than cities such as Chicago, which have SEPs with extended night and evening hours. We would undertake a project that determines the benefit of extending evening and weekend hours at the SEPs in Connecticut. To the best of our knowledge, this has never been explored. The project would provide support to extend the current SEP hours into the evening and weekends and compare the impact of SEPs with these expanded hours to those that maintain the standard hours of operation. Outcomes to be compared will include number of clients served, syringes and needles exchanged per encounter, and the delivery of prevention intervention services at the SEPs. These findings will inform tailored prevention intervention approaches for hard-to-reach injection drug users in Connecticut. CIRA scientists evaluated the first SEP in New Haven nearly 15 years ago and have maintained strong ties to the SEP programs in New Haven and Hartford with whom they would collaborate in this project. In their earlier research, CIRA scientists found that the SEP attributed to a 30% reduction in the number of new HIV cases in New Haven and have documented how the changes in SEP operating procedures over the past 15 years have influenced customer usage and program impacts.