High dead-space syringes and the risk of HIV and HCV infection among injecting drug users
This study examines the association between using and sharing high dead-space syringes (HDSSs)—which retain over 1000 times more blood after rinsing than low dead-space syringes (LDSSs)—and prevalent HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections among injecting drug users (IDUs). A sample of 851 out-of-treatment IDUs was recruited in Raleigh–Durham, North Carolina, between 2003 and 2005. Participants were tested for HIV and HCV antibodies. Demographic, drug use, and injection practice data were collected via interviews. Data were analyzed using multiple logistic regression analysis. Participants had a mean age of 40 years and 74% are male, 63% are African American, 29% are non-Hispanic white, and 8% are of other race/ethnicity. Overall, 42% of participants had ever used an HDSS and 12% had shared one. HIV prevalence was 5% among IDUs who had never used an HDSS compared with 16% among IDUs who had shared one. The HIV model used a propensity score approach to adjust for differences between IDUs who had used an HDSS and those who had never used one. The HCV models included all potential confounders as covariates. A history of sharing HDSSs was associated with prevalent HIV (odds ratio = 2.50; 95% confidence interval = 1.01, 6.15). Use and sharing of HDSSs were also associated with increased odds of HCV infection. Prospective studies are needed to determine if sharing HDSSs is associated with increased HIV and HCV incidence among IDUs.