In a UK first Needle Exchanges across Greater Glasgow and Clyde are offering potentially lifesaving “one hit kits” to drug addicts to help reduce the spread of Hepatitis C.
Needle Exchanges have been hugely effective in reducing the spread of HIV … but have been less effective in reducing rates of Hepatitis C.
The National Hepatitis C Action Plan recognises that Hepatitis C is not only spread through the sharing needles but also from the sharing of other paraphernalia used by addicts such as filters and spoons.
In February 2009 NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde introduced the “One Hit Kit” which includes the needle, spoon, filter and citric acid along with a hard plastic safe disposal bin to ensure Hepatitis C is not spread by the sharing of equipment.
Carole Hunter, lead pharmacist in the Addictions Partnership, said: “There are more than 50,000 people with Hepatitis C across Scotland and 95 per cent of them have become infected through injecting drug use. We know that the needle exchange programme has been hugely effective in reducing HIV cross-infection and the One Hit Kits are designed to deliver similar reductions in the spread of Hepatitis C.
“We introduced the kits to our needle exchanges in February this year to ensure intravenous drug users had a complete kit of sterile equipment and to stop people sharing spoons and filters and so prevent the spread of Hepatitis C through the sharing of equipment.
“Health Boards and Trusts throughout the UK are showing great levels of interest in this One Hit Kit initiative with a view to introducing it to their needle exchanges.
“Some health systems already do provide spoons and filters as well as needles but NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and one other Board in Scotland are the only two areas using the this single package of kit complete with a safe disposal bin.”
The One Hit Kits are available at 85 sites throughout Greater Glasgow and Clyde. Not all of these sites are what you traditionally refer to as a needle exchange. For example the kits are distributed at 64 pharmacies in our board area and at 21 other sites including six nurse led needle exchange centres.
For further information contact 0141 201 4429.