amfAR Study Shows Syringe Prescription May Help Prevent HIV Transmission New Strategy Highlights Decrease in Risk Behavior of Injection Drug Users

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Foundation for AIDS Research

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A study published in the May
 2001 issue of the American Journal of Public Health and funded by the American
 Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) shows that physician syringe prescription
 is an effective and acceptable tool among injection drug users to enhance
 compliance to preventative measures, including HIV testing and regular
 physician visits. It also contributes to increase participation in medical and
 substance abuse treatment.  Injection drug use (IDU) is a leading cause of HIV
 transmission, accounting for more than 1/3 of all adult AIDS cases in the
 United States.
     "This pilot study represents the first attempt to implement and evaluate
 syringe prescription on a programmatic basis," explains Dr. Mathilde Krim,
 amfAR's Founding Chair and Chairman of the Board.  "The preliminary findings
 are encouraging, especially in light of the need for more attention to the
 issue of needle sharing which is accountable for many HIV cases."
     The Rhode Island Blood Borne Pathogen Harm Reduction Program, as this
 pilot study is referred to, enrolled 323 participants of whom over 267 were
 subsequently seen by a physician.  The participant population was 33%
 female, 47% homeless and 41% non-white; the average age was 41.  At time of
 enrollment, only 39% of participants had regular contact with a physician,
 40% had medical insurance and 34% were in some form of drug treatment.
 Preliminary results suggest that participant risk behavior is reduced and
 involvement in medical and substance abuse treatment is increased as a
 result of syringe prescription.
     Traditionally, IDU populations have regarded the medical community with
 fear and mistrust.  "The syringe prescription program provides a safe,
 culturally-sensitive, non-threatening way to reach a population in desperate
 need of treatment and support services," explains Dr. Josiah Rich, the
 study's lead investigator at the Miriam Hospital, Brown University School of
 Medicine.  "Not only is syringe prescription a feasible method for
 preventing HIV, but we also witnessed a transformation in the majority of
 patients in that they actually became willing and active participants in
 their own health care, from vaccination to drug abuse counseling to HIV and
 sexually transmitted disease testing."
     The study design facilitates patient-physician interactions thereby
 increasing participant links to and trust in the medical care system.
 Licensed physicians were invited by the Rhode Island Department of Health to
 take part in a clinical program to offer syringes by prescription to prevent
 the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens.  All participants
 were given a basic clinical exam and risk assessment prior to enrollment.
 Physicians were required to keep detailed documentation of patient care,
 assist patients in the safe disposal of used syringes and conduct follow-up
 evaluations.
     The program operates with the buy-in support of local health organizations
 including the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Rhode Island Pharmacists'
 Association, the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, the
 Rhode Island State Board of Pharmacy, the Rhode Island Department of Health,
 among others.  Other Co-Sponsors of the study include the Open Society
 Institute, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health
 Services Administration, the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the
 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Rhode Island was selected for this pilot
 program because as many as 50% of the State's AIDS cases are related to IDU.
 Moreover, very stringent laws on syringe possession are enforced in this
 state.
     Previous strategies to provide access to sterile syringes in order to
 decrease HIV transmission as well as other blood-borne pathogens include
 needle exchange programs and advocacy efforts to remove of amend laws to
 regulate syringe use and possession.  amfAR has over a decade of commitment
 to expanding access to sterile syringes to prevent transmission of HIV.
     The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) is the nation's leading
 non-profit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research, AIDS
 prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related
 public policy.  Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $175 million in
 support for its programs and awarded grants to more than 1,850 research
 teams worldwide.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X04745462
 
 

SOURCE American Foundation for AIDS Research
    PROVIDENCE, R.I., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- A study published in the May
 2001 issue of the American Journal of Public Health and funded by the American
 Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) shows that physician syringe prescription
 is an effective and acceptable tool among injection drug users to enhance
 compliance to preventative measures, including HIV testing and regular
 physician visits. It also contributes to increase participation in medical and
 substance abuse treatment.  Injection drug use (IDU) is a leading cause of HIV
 transmission, accounting for more than 1/3 of all adult AIDS cases in the
 United States.
     "This pilot study represents the first attempt to implement and evaluate
 syringe prescription on a programmatic basis," explains Dr. Mathilde Krim,
 amfAR's Founding Chair and Chairman of the Board.  "The preliminary findings
 are encouraging, especially in light of the need for more attention to the
 issue of needle sharing which is accountable for many HIV cases."
     The Rhode Island Blood Borne Pathogen Harm Reduction Program, as this
 pilot study is referred to, enrolled 323 participants of whom over 267 were
 subsequently seen by a physician.  The participant population was 33%
 female, 47% homeless and 41% non-white; the average age was 41.  At time of
 enrollment, only 39% of participants had regular contact with a physician,
 40% had medical insurance and 34% were in some form of drug treatment.
 Preliminary results suggest that participant risk behavior is reduced and
 involvement in medical and substance abuse treatment is increased as a
 result of syringe prescription.
     Traditionally, IDU populations have regarded the medical community with
 fear and mistrust.  "The syringe prescription program provides a safe,
 culturally-sensitive, non-threatening way to reach a population in desperate
 need of treatment and support services," explains Dr. Josiah Rich, the
 study's lead investigator at the Miriam Hospital, Brown University School of
 Medicine.  "Not only is syringe prescription a feasible method for
 preventing HIV, but we also witnessed a transformation in the majority of
 patients in that they actually became willing and active participants in
 their own health care, from vaccination to drug abuse counseling to HIV and
 sexually transmitted disease testing."
     The study design facilitates patient-physician interactions thereby
 increasing participant links to and trust in the medical care system.
 Licensed physicians were invited by the Rhode Island Department of Health to
 take part in a clinical program to offer syringes by prescription to prevent
 the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne pathogens.  All participants
 were given a basic clinical exam and risk assessment prior to enrollment.
 Physicians were required to keep detailed documentation of patient care,
 assist patients in the safe disposal of used syringes and conduct follow-up
 evaluations.
     The program operates with the buy-in support of local health organizations
 including the Rhode Island Medical Society, the Rhode Island Pharmacists'
 Association, the Rhode Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline, the
 Rhode Island State Board of Pharmacy, the Rhode Island Department of Health,
 among others.  Other Co-Sponsors of the study include the Open Society
 Institute, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health
 Services Administration, the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program of the
 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  Rhode Island was selected for this pilot
 program because as many as 50% of the State's AIDS cases are related to IDU.
 Moreover, very stringent laws on syringe possession are enforced in this
 state.
     Previous strategies to provide access to sterile syringes in order to
 decrease HIV transmission as well as other blood-borne pathogens include
 needle exchange programs and advocacy efforts to remove of amend laws to
 regulate syringe use and possession.  amfAR has over a decade of commitment
 to expanding access to sterile syringes to prevent transmission of HIV.
     The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) is the nation's leading
 non-profit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research, AIDS
 prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related
 public policy.  Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $175 million in
 support for its programs and awarded grants to more than 1,850 research
 teams worldwide.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X04745462
 
 SOURCE  American Foundation for AIDS Research