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      Self-reported changes in drug use behaviors and syringe disposal methods following the opening of a supervised injecting facility in Copenhagen, Denmark

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          In Denmark, the first standalone supervised injecting facility (SIF) opened in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighborhood on October 1, 2012. The purpose of this study was to assess whether use of services provided by the recently opened SIF was associated with changes in injecting behavior and syringe disposal practices among people who inject drugs (PWID). We hypothesized that risk behaviors (e.g., syringe sharing), and unsafe syringe disposal (e.g., dropping used equipment on the ground) had decreased among PWID utilizing the SIF.


          Between February and August of 2013, we conducted interviews using a survey (in English and Danish) with forty-one people who reported injecting drugs at the SIF. We used descriptive statistics and McNemar’s test to examine sociodemographic characteristics of the sample, current drugs used, sites of syringe disposal before and after opening of the SIF, and perceived behavior change since using the SIF.


          Of the interviewed participants, 90.2% were male and the majority were younger than 40 years old (60.9%). Three-quarters (75.6%) of participants reported reductions in injection risk behaviors since the opening of the SIF, such as injecting in a less rushed manner (63.4%), fewer outdoor injections (56.1%), no longer syringe sharing (53.7%), and cleaning injecting site(s) more often (43.9%). Approximately two-thirds (65.9%) of participants did not feel that their frequency of injecting had changed; five participants (12.2%) reported a decrease in injecting frequency, and only two participants (4.9%) reported an increase in injecting frequency. Twenty-four (58.5%) individuals reported changing their syringe disposal practices since the opening of the SIF; of those, twenty-three (95.8%) reported changing from not always disposing safely to always disposing safely (McNemar’s test p-value < 0.001).


          Our findings suggest that use of the Copenhagen SIF is associated with adoption of safer behaviors that reduce harm and promote health among PWID, as well as practices that benefit the Vesterbro neighborhood (i.e., safer syringe disposal). As a public health intervention, Copenhagen’s SIF has successfully reached PWID engaging in risk behavior. To fully characterize the impacts of this and other Danish SIFs, further research should replicate this study with a larger sample size and prospective follow-up.

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          Most cited references 53

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          Reduction in overdose mortality after the opening of North America's first medically supervised safer injecting facility: a retrospective population-based study.

          Overdose from illicit drugs is a leading cause of premature mortality in North America. Internationally, more than 65 supervised injecting facilities (SIFs), where drug users can inject pre-obtained illicit drugs, have been opened as part of various strategies to reduce the harms associated with drug use. We sought to determine whether the opening of an SIF in Vancouver, BC, Canada, was associated with a reduction in overdose mortality. We examined population-based overdose mortality rates for the period before (Jan 1, 2001, to Sept 20, 2003) and after (Sept 21, 2003, to Dec 31, 2005) the opening of the Vancouver SIF. The location of death was determined from provincial coroner records. We compared overdose fatality rates within an a priori specified 500 m radius of the SIF and for the rest of the city. Of 290 decedents, 229 (79·0%) were male, and the median age at death was 40 years (IQR 32-48 years). A third (89, 30·7%) of deaths occurred in city blocks within 500 m of the SIF. The fatal overdose rate in this area decreased by 35·0% after the opening of the SIF, from 253·8 to 165·1 deaths per 100,000 person-years (p=0·048). By contrast, during the same period, the fatal overdose rate in the rest of the city decreased by only 9·3%, from 7·6 to 6·9 deaths per 100,000 person-years (p=0·490). There was a significant interaction of rate differences across strata (p=0·049). SIFs should be considered where injection drug use is prevalent, particularly in areas with high densities of overdose. Vancouver Coastal Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Interview Mode Effects in Surveys of Drug and Alcohol Use: A Field Experiment

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              Risk factors for skin and soft-tissue abscesses among injection drug users: a case-control study.

              Skin and soft-tissue abscesses, a common problem among injection drug users (IDUs), result in serious morbidity for the patient and costly hospitalizations for incision and drainage; however, there has been little etiologic or preventive epidemiologic research on this problem. We performed a case-control study that enrolled 151 IDUs who had been given a new diagnosis of abscess requiring incision and drainage (cases) and 267 IDUs who did not have abscess or other bacterial infection during the previous year and who were stratum-matched to cases according to age, sex, and race (controls). Subcutaneous or intramuscular, instead of intravenous, injection is a major risk factor for abscess among IDUs. The injection of a cocaine and heroin mixture, or "speedball," may predispose patients to develop abscess by inducing soft-tissue ischemia. Cleaning the skin with alcohol before injection was found to have a protective effect. Neither human immunodeficiency virus nor human T-lymphotropic virus type II seropositivity was significantly associated with abscess.

                Author and article information

                Harm Reduct J
                Harm Reduct J
                Harm Reduction Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                28 October 2014
                28 October 2014
                : 11
                : 1
                [ ]Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public Health, 121 South Main Street, Box G-S-121-4 Providence, RI 02912 USA
                [ ]Department of Epidemiology, Brown University School of Public Health, 121 South Main Street, Box G-S-121-2, Providence, RI 02912 USA
                [ ]Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 317 - 2194 Health Sciences Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z3 Canada
                [ ]Urban Health Research Initiative, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, 608 – 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6 Canada
                [ ]The Saxo Institute, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Vej 4, DK-2300 Copenhagen, Denmark
                © Kinnard et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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