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Open Access Research

Long-term survey of a syringe-dispensing machine needle exchange program: answering public concerns

Catherine Duplessy1 and Emmanuel G Reynaud2*

Author Affiliations

1 SAFE, 11 avenue de la Porte de la Plaine, Paris 75015, France

2 School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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Harm Reduction Journal 2014, 11:16  doi:10.1186/1477-7517-11-16

Published: 22 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Syringe-dispensing machines (SDM) provide syringes at any time even to hard-to-reach injecting drug users (IDUs). They represent an important harm reduction strategy in large populated urban areas such as Paris. We analyzed the performance of one of the world's largest SDM schemes based in Paris over 12 years to understand its efficiency and its limitations, to answer public and stakeholder concerns and optimize its outputs.

Methods

Parisian syringe dispensing and exchange machines were monitored as well as their sharp disposals and associated bins over a 12-year period. Moreover, mechanical counting devices were installed on specific syringe-dispensing/exchange machines to record the characteristics of the exchange process.

Results

Distribution and needle exchange have risen steadily by 202% for the distribution and 2,000% for syringe recovery even without a coin counterpart. However, 2 machines out of 34 generate 50% of the total activity of the scheme. It takes 14 s for an IDU to collect a syringe, while the average user takes 3.76 syringes per session 20 min apart. Interestingly, collection time stops early in the evening (19 h) for the entire night.

Conclusions

SDMs had an increasing distribution role during daytime as part of the harm reduction strategy in Paris with efficient recycling capacities of used syringes and a limited number of kits collected by IDU. Using counting devices to monitor Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) is a very helpful tool to optimize use and answer public and stakeholder concerns.