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Syringe Access, Use & Discard: Context in AIDS Risk Study (NIDA Grant # RO1 DA12569, PI: Merrill Singer, PhD) –Hispanic Health Council, Htfd., CT: Tom.

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Presentation on theme: "Syringe Access, Use & Discard: Context in AIDS Risk Study (NIDA Grant # RO1 DA12569, PI: Merrill Singer, PhD) –Hispanic Health Council, Htfd., CT: Tom."— Presentation transcript:

1 Syringe Access, Use & Discard: Context in AIDS Risk Study (NIDA Grant # RO1 DA12569, PI: Merrill Singer, PhD) –Hispanic Health Council, Htfd., CT: Tom Stopka, MHS, Merrill Singer, PhD, Claudia Santelices, ABD, Wei Teng, PhD, Glenn Scott, Susan Shaw, PhD, Anna Marie Nicolaysen, MA, Julie Eiserman, M.A. –Yale Univ. Dept. of EPH: Robert Heimer, PhD, Kaveh Khoshnood, PhD, Mark Kinzly, Anthony Givens, Kevin Irwin, BS –UMass SPH: David Buchanan, DrPH –New North Citizens’ Council, Spfd.: Antonio Arzola –Spfd. SW Comm. Hlth. Ctr., MA: Sabrina Simmons


3 Public Health Interventionists, Successful Capitalists, Harbingers of Risk? Syringe Sellers in Connecticut and Massachusetts Tom Stopka 1, Merrill Singer 1, Claudia Santelices 1, Wei Teng 1, Robert Heimer 2, Susan Shaw 1, Anna Marie Nicolaysen 1, Mark Kinzly 2, Kaveh Khoshnood 2, David Buchanan 3, and Glenn Scott 1 1) Hispanic Health Council, Hartford, CT; 2) Yale University, New Haven, CT; 3) University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA

4 Need for a New Intervention b10 years since any new public health interventions have been attempted to reduce HIV and Hepatitis transmission among IDUs â SEP â OTC sales of pharmacy syringes â Outreach efforts â Bridge to treatment programs bNeed a new approach âCan syringe sellers fill an important harm reduction niche?

5 Methods bIn-depth Interviews (N=25): âHartford: 20 IDIs with 18 syringe sellers Springfield: 7 total âHartford: 13 Latino, 3 AA, 1 white, 1 M.E. Springfield: 4 PR, 2 AA, 1 white âHartford: 15 male, 3 female; mean age = 37 Springfield: 3 male, 4 female; mean age = 39 *Syringe sellers difficult to locate in New Haven* bStructured surveys with IDUs (N=878) bEthnographic Observations

6 Syringe Source Used Most ) Often, Past 30 Days (N=878) Categorization of syringe sellers and diabetics is based on perceptions of IDUs who were interviewed.



9 Rationale for Selling Syringes bEasy Labor -- “I started hanging around on the corner right over here..., and I saw some people selling syringes, and selling drugs. I had no choice. I don’t do no drugs. And the syringes were easy to sell. So, I said, ‘hell, that is what I am going to do.’” (Hartford) b“ Easy money” b“Insurance source…wouldn’t have to go steal…” b“Less worries” with police bHarm Reduction -- “So I got hepatitis C. That is why I am selling [sterile syringes] now…I don’t want nobody to catch that.” (Hartford Seller)

10 Typology of Syringe Sellers in Hartford and Springfield bOpportunistic Sellers -- “I got a box of syringes from a friend for a couple of bucks and I sold them.” bBulk Sellers -- “I sell about 40-50 syringes a day.” bSubcontractors (Hartford) -- “I give you 30 syringes, and what you do is you work this end of the street and I work this end of the street…The more you sell, the more money you make. I give you 30, you give me $20 and you keep ten…”

11 Clientele bIDUs who... âDon’t want to be seen at SEP or pharmacy (Hartford) âWant to maintain a low profile âFind seller’s schedule and location more convenient bMale (74%) and female (26%) IDUs bRegulars vs. “weekend junkies” (Hartford)

12 Buyers of Underground Syringes, by Race/Ethnicity (n=121)

13 IDU Perceptions of Syringe Sellers bHierarchy of Risk ¶Diabetics (non-IDUs) most trusted sellers. “… I know that she is not a drug user. The other sources are drug users and you know, when you are a drug user, you say, no I never touched them and I’m clean. But you know, they ain’t gonna tell you, yeah I’ve got HIV, wanna buy these?” (Hartford IDU) “’s just medicine, it’s not like they shooting drugs or anything...” (Springfield IDU) ·“Alcoholics” next most trusted ¸Fellow IDUs least trusted as syringe sellers

14 Risky Sales “One time a dude asked me, and I had no syringes, and he said he had to get off, I said ‘I got a couple of used ones in the draw’r, but I got Hepatitis,’ so whatever, I said ‘if I give it to you, I am telling you now, you got to clean it.’” (Hartford Seller)

15 Economy of Syringes I b Variations in price: âSliding scale = $1.00 to $5.00; new and used pricing variation in Springfield âGood days vs. bad days -- “Sundays are my good days. I sell syringes for $2.00. During the week I sell for $1.00.” (Hartford Seller) “Beginning of the month is good for sales.” âAvailability determines price âSyringes sold on credit at higher prices

16 Economy of Syringes II bStreet sales vs. house sales bSyringes as currency

17 Syringe Prices, by Source and City


19 Syringe Sources for Syringe Sellers Diabetics: self, relative Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) Pharmacy: OTC (Hartford), Rx (Spfd.) Injection locales Hospital (stealing) Underground bulk source?

20 Street Selling Strategies bNew Sellers: “Tengo ganchos” bExperienced sellers: word of mouth b“Sales”: 2 for 1, “…five for two dollars.” b“Referral system” with drug dealers b“One stop deal” bShelter business

21 Sales Challenges bPolice: “That (possession of syringes) will get you a year in Jail” (Springfield) bNew faces bSyringe inventory depleted quickly (especially around 1st of month in Springfield) bGangs (Hartford) bCompetition



24 Sterility of Syringes Purchased from Syringe Sellers bHartford: 0 of 59 syringes tested positive for human DNA (new syringes) â37.9% originally from SEP â8.4% individually wrapped bSpringfield: 9 of 76 syringes (11.8%) tested positive for DNA positive (9 used syringes). bNew Haven: 0 of 2 syringes positive (outlier- syringe selling seems very rare)

25 New Haven bMost participants were reluctant to talk about street sellers. bIDUs shocked by the thought of repackaged syringes. b10 years of increased syringe availability through SEP and pharmacies. bConscious effort by police to shut down syringe sellers. bNo “Street Peddler” tradition.

26 Conclusions: Syringe Sellers... ¶can improve harm reduction efforts by increasing access to sterile syringes, filling a gap in supply ·may decrease the possibility of IDUs experiencing crisis events with syringes ¸sell more sterile syringes in Hartford than in New Haven and Springfield ¹can play an integral part in future HIV and hepatitis interventions

27 Operationalizing Syringe Sellers as Public Health Advocates bConduct further research about public health risks and benefits of street sellers. bEducate sellers on safe sales practices. bAdvise IDUs on purchase precautions. bEncourage street sellers to sell/hand out harm reduction materials (e.g., water, cookers, etc.). bConsider creating a formal relationship between DPH and street syringe sellers.

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