Preventing hepatitis C infection among young injecting drug users in Cairns

McCalman, J, and Gilbert, J (2001) Preventing hepatitis C infection among young injecting drug users in Cairns. Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 12 (3). pp. 265-267.

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issue addressed: Many Australian Injecting drug users are infected with the hepatitis C virus. Young people who inject drugs, particularly initiates to injecting, are not concerned about becoming infected and lack knowledge of safe practices. This study investigated the injecting practices and knowledge of hepatitis c prevention among young people and injectors in Cairns, Australia. Methods: Participants were recruited through agency contacts, media advertising and snowballing through peer contacts. Questionnaire-based interviews, outreach, focus groups and opportunistic individual discussions were used to gather data. Results: Most respondents had left school early and were unemployed and homeless. The age of first injection ranged from 12-22 years (mean 16.7 years) and was most commonly unplanned. Less than half of the young people had heard of hepatitis C at the time of their first injection and most were not worried about catching blood-borne viruses. Needle availability and support programs were the principle sources of both equipment and information about hepatitis C they were also nominated as preferred places for information. Conclusion Young initiates to injecting drug use are at high risk of hepatitis C infection. In this study, preferred sources of information about hepatitis C included explicit pamphlets and resources that could be accessed at the time of injecting. They preferred talking with a personal contact such as a drug and alcohol worker, youth worker or someone they trusted. Responses also supported the strategy of teaching people who inject drugs about their role in educating other injectors. So what? The study supports the use of peer based education and support programs as well as explicit resources to promote safer drug use among young injecting drug users.

Item ID: 716
Item Type: Article (UNSPECIFIED)
ISSN: 1036-1073
Keywords: Injecting drug use, Hepatitis C, Peer education
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Copyright © 2001 Australian Health Promotion Association

Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2006
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 0%
Downloads: Total: 2
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