Background: In 2012, the World Health Organization recommended that needle and syringe programs offer their clients low dead space insulin syringes with permanently attached needles. However, in many countries, these syringes are not acceptable to a majority of people who inject drugs. This study assessed the feasibility of working with needle and syringe programs to implement the WHO recommendation using low dead space detachable needles. The study also assessed the acceptability of the needles.
Methods: Two needle and syringe programs in Tajikistan-one in Kulob and one in Khudjand-received 25,000 low dead space detachable needles each. The programs distributed low dead space detachable needles and a marketing flyer that emphasized the relative advantages of the needles. Each program also enrolled 100 participants, and each participant completed a baseline interview and a 2-month follow-up interview.
Results: At follow-up, 100% of participants reported trying the low dead space detachable needles, and 96% reported that they liked using the needles. Both needle and syringe programs distributed all their needles within the first 60 days of the project indicating use of the needles, even among clients who did not participate in the study.
Conclusions: This project demonstrates that it is feasible for needle and syringe programs to offer and promote low dead space needles to their clients. The findings indicate that low dead space needles are acceptable to needle and syringe program clients in these Tajikistan cities. To reduce HIV and hepatitis C virus transmission, needle and syringe programs should offer low dead space needles, low dead space insulin syringes in addition to standard needles, and syringes to their clients.
Keywords: Central Asia; Heroin; Implementation science; Needle exchange; People who inject drugs; Syringe exchange.