Australia's first study into the reasons why injecting drug users are sharing syringes at an unacceptably high rate has found stigma and discrimination are still major barriers to accessing clean equipment.

30 Jun 2015

The exact number of people sharing equipment is difficult to quantify but one recent Australian Needle and Syringe Program Survey found 16 per cent of respondents reported risky sharing of needles and syringes, up from 12 per cent in 2010.

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) said despite increased access to needle and syringe programs, more needs to be done to prevent blood borne viruses.

Lead author Dr Angella Duvnjak said the focus group-based study found drug users developed a broad range of innovative strategies to get their hands on clean equipment.

"One strategy that came up quite commonly was having to organise with other drug users to mail equipment to them. It might be a 200-kilometre round trip to the nearest place that wouldn't expose them [to] stigma and discrimination," she said.

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