November 7, 2002
Seventy-seven percent of the sample of predominantly male, Hispanic patients in their thirties and forties was reached for follow-up interviews. Data analysis showed a greater than twofold protective effect associated with use of syringe exchange, although the authors stress that such an association could be due in part to preexisting differences between IDUs who seek and those who do not seek to use an SEP. Analysis examining the interaction of exchange use with other sources of syringes showed the odds of HIV risk behavior were decreased more than sixfold for IDUs who obtained syringes only from the SEP.
The findings of this study support the bulk of the literature evaluating syringe exchange: the protective effect associated with such programs is considerable. Furthermore, the finding that the protective effect increases sixfold against HIV risk for IDUs without other sources of syringes emphasizes the critical nature of such programs and suggests that syringe exchange programs can gain great benefit from focusing on getting sterile syringes to these IDUs.