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Qualitative case study of needle exchange programs in the Central Appalachian region of the United States

Qualitative case study of needle exchange programs in the Central Appalachian region of the United States


Title: Qualitative case study of needle exchange programs in the Central Appalachian region of the United States
Author: Davis, Stephen M.
Davidov, Danielle
Kristjansson, Alfgeir   orcid.org/0000-0001-8136-9210
Zullig, Keith
Baus, Adam
Fisher, Melanie
Date: 2018-10-12
Language: English
Scope: e0205466
University/Institute: Reykjavík University (RU)
Háskólinn í Reykjavík (HR)
School: School of Business (RU)
Viðskiptadeild (HR)
Department: Sálfræði (HR)
Psychology (RU)
Series: Plos One;13(10)
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205466
Subject: Injection drug use; Hepatitis C; Syringe exchange; Global epidemiology; Economic burden; Prevention; Disease; Implementation; Participation
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/1201

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Citation:

Davis, S. M., Davidov, D., Kristjansson, A. L., Zullig, K., Baus, A., & Fisher, M. (2018). Qualitative case study of needle exchange programs in the Central Appalachian region of the United States. Plos One, 13(10), e0205466. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205466

Abstract:

Background The Central Appalachian region of the United States is in the midst of a hepatitis C virus epidemic driven by injection of opioids, particularly heroin, with contaminated syringes. In response to this epidemic, several needle exchange programs (NEP) have opened to provide clean needles and other supplies and services to people who inject drugs (PWID). However, no studies have investigated the barriers and facilitators to implementing, operating, and expanding NEPs in less populous areas of the United States. Methods This qualitative case study consisted of interviews with program directors, police chiefs, law enforcement members, and PWID affiliated with two NEPs in the rural state of West Virginia. Interview transcripts were coded inductively and analyzed using qualitative data analysis software. Final common themes related to barriers and facilitators of past program openings, current program operations, and future program plans, were derived through a consensus of two data coders. Results Both NEPs struggled to find existing model programs, but benefited from broad community support that facilitated implementation. The largest operational barrier was the legal conundrum created by paraphernalia laws that criminalize syringe possession. However, both PWID and law enforcement appreciated the comprehensive services provided by these programs. Program location and transportation difficulties were additional noted barriers. Future program operations are threatened by funding shortages and bans, but necessitated by unexpected program demand. Conclusion Despite broad community support, program operations are threatened by growing participant volumes, funding shortages, and the federal government's prohibition on the use of funds to purchase needles. Paraphernalia laws create a legal conundrum in the form of criminal sanctions for the possession of needles, which may inadvertently promote needle sharing and disease transmission. Future studies should examine additional barriers to using clean needles provided by rural NEPs that may blunt the effectiveness of NEPs in preventing disease transmission.

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: © 2018 Davis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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