Objective: To determine whether enrollment in the Baltimore Needle Exchange Program (NEP) was associated with short-term reduction in risky injection practices.
Methods: Demographic information was collected on NEP participants upon enrollment. A systematic sample of enrollees was interviewed at program entry, 2 weeks, and 6 months later on recent drug-related behaviors. Comparisons were performed using paired t-tests.
Results: Among 221 NEP participants who completed baseline, 2-week and 6-month follow-up visits, significant reductions (p < .01) were reported in using a previously used syringe (21.6%, 11.0%, 7.8%, respectively), lending one's used syringe to a friend (26.7%, 18.4%, 12%, respectively), and several indirect sharing activities. Reductions were reported in the mean number of injections per syringe and the mean number of injections per day (p < .001).
Conclusions: These results show rapid and mostly large reductions in a variety of risky injection drug use behaviors. Study findings are consistent with earlier reports showing an association between behavioral risk reduction and participation in a needle exchange program.