HIV and other medical complications of drug use, including overdose, are rising among people who inject drugs in the United States (US). Risk of complications and mortality increase with injection behaviors such as syringe sharing, rushing injections, and injecting in isolated places. Studies suggest safe consumption sites (SCS) reduce high-risk injection behaviors by offering sterile syringes and a safe, supervised space to consume drugs, although this has yet to be evaluated in the US.
An unsanctioned SCS in an undisclosed US location.
From 2018 to 2019, we recruited people who inject drugs using targeted sampling methods (N = 494) and conducted interviews at baseline, 6-, and 12-months. We sought to determine associations of past-month SCS use with past-month receptive syringe sharing, rushed injections, and injections in isolated places. We analyzed data using inverse probability of treatment weighted Poisson regression models. Generalized estimating equations accounted for repeated measures.
Fifty-two (11%) participants had past-month SCS use. Participants with past-month SCS use had decreased rates of receptive syringe sharing (Incident rate ratio [IRR] 0.17, 95% CI: 0.03 to 1.02) and injecting in an isolated location (IRR 0.77, 95% CI: 0.54 to 1.27) compared with those without past-month SCS use, although results were not statistically conclusive. Rate of rushed injections was only slightly lower (IRR 0.94, 95% CI: 0.70 to 1.30).
SCS may show benefit in reducing high-risk injection practices, and legal sanctioning of an SCS may offer further advantages. SCS implementation should be considered to help reduce the spread of HIV, overdose mortality, and prevent other medical complications of injection drug use.