Home Site Map Search Members Only Contact Us
Home arrow Publications arrow Needle Exchange
Needle Exchange

A syringe distribution program or “needle exchange” is an intervention that is used in many urban centres around the world. Sharing syringes is the most common way that HIV and other blood-borne diseases are transmitted among injection drug users. Needle exchange programs aim to reduce the chances that drug users will inject themselves with shared (used) syringes, and these programs have proven highly effective in preventing HIV infection among injection drug users. Research from UHRI and other centres has shown that by providing injection drug users with clean syringes – either through a mobile distribution program or from a fixed location – the number of injections involving shared equipment is reduced. While syringe distribution programs do not completely eradicate syringe sharing and other HIV risk behaviours, they are a crucial aspect of any comprehensive response to injection drug use and play a key role in reducing HIV infection and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users and their communities.

Vancouver has long been home to one of North America's largest needle exchange programs. This has given UHRI investigators the opportunity to conduct several studies of the benefits and limitations of these programs and the possible ways in which they may be optimized.

 Publications

  • Werb D, Kerr T, Buxton J, Shoveller J, Richardson C, Montaner J, Wood E. Patterns of injection drug use cessation during an expansion of syringe exchange services in a Canadian setting. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2013; 132(3): 535-540. PubMed
  • Hyshka E, Strathdee SA, Wood E, Kerr T. Needle exchange and the HIV epidemic in Vancouver: Lessons learned from 15 years of research. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2012; 23(4): 260-270. PubMed
  • Kerr T, Wood E. Should we move from syringe exchange to distribution?: Kerr and Wood respond. American Journal of Public Health, 2011; 101(3): 390.
  • Hayashi K, Wood E, Wiebe L, Qi J, Kerr T. An external evaluation of a peer-run outreach-based syringe exchange in Vancouver, Canada. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2010; 21(5): 418-421. PubMed Summary
  • Kerr T, Small W, Buchner C, Zhang R, Li K, Montaner J, Wood E. Syringe sharing and HIV incidence among injection drug users and increased access to sterile syringes. American Journal of Public Health, 2010; 100(8): 1449-1453. PubMed Summary
  • Small W, Wood E, Buchner C, Fair B, Kerr T. Decline in needle exchange use in Vancouver, Canada coincides with the Australian heroin shortage. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2008; 19(4): 291-2. PubMed
  • Wood E, Lloyd-Smith E, Li K, Strathdee SA, Small W, Tyndall MW, Montaner JS, Kerr T. Frequent needle exchange use and HIV incidence in Vancouver, Canada. American Journal of Medicine, 2007;120(2): 172-179. PubMed
  • Kuyper LM, Kerr T, Li K, Hogg RS, Tyndall MW, Montaner JS, Wood E. Factors associated with buying and selling syringes among injection drug users in a setting of one of North America’s largest syringe exchange programs. Substance Use & Misuse, 2006; 41(6/7): 883-899. PubMed
  • Wood E, Kerr T. Needle exchange and the HIV outbreak among injection drug users in Vancouver, Canada. Substance Use & Misuse, 2006; 41(6/7): 841-843. PubMed
  • Kerr T, Wood E. Needle exchange programs and the HIV outbreak among injection drug users in Vancouver, Canada: Addressing some common misperceptions. Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, March 7, 2005.
  • Wood E, Kerr T, Small W, Jones J, Schechter MT, Tyndall MW. The impact of a police presence on access to needle exchange programs. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2003; 34(1): 116-118. PubMed
  • Wood E, Spittal P. Maximising the effectiveness of harm reduction programmes. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2003; 14(4): 291-292.
  • Wood E, Kerr T, Spittal PM, Small W, Tyndall MW, O’Shaughnessy MV, Schechter MT. An external evaluation of a peer-run “unsanctioned” syringe exchange program. Journal of Urban Health, 2003; 80(3): 455-464. PubMed Summary
  • Wood E, Tyndall MW, Spittal PM, Li K, Hogg RS, Montaner JS, O’Shaughnessy MV, Schechter MT. Factors associated with persistent high-risk syringe sharing in the presence of an established needle exchange programme. AIDS, 2002; 16(6): 941-943. PubMed
  • Wood E, Tyndall M, Spittal P, Li K, Kerr T, Hogg R, O’Shaughnessy M, Schechter M. Needle exchange and difficulty with needle access during an ongoing HIV epidemic. International Journal of Drug Policy, 2002; 13(2): 95-102.
  • Kerr T, Wood E. Vancouver police raid needle exchange run by drug users. Canadian HIV/AIDS Policy Law Review, 2002; 7(2-3): 34-35. PubMed