Perceptions about supervised injection facilities among people who inject drugs in Philadelphia

Robert E. Harris, Jessica Richardson, Rosemary Frasso, Evan D. Anderson (2017)

BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) are at high risk for infectious diseases, skin and soft tissue infections, and overdose. However, these harms are all avoidable when sterile injection equipment, hygienic places to inject, and medical care are accessible. Unfortunately, many PWID in the U.S lack these resources. The most vulnerable are forced to inject in public spaces, where individual risks are high and communal harms are sometimes many. Supervised Injection Facilities (SIFs) are an established intervention for reducing these harms. Despite positive experiences in other countries, little research explores how PWID in the U.S. perceive the value of such facilities.
METHODS: We conducted a freelisting exercise with PWID (n=42) and healthcare providers (n=20) at a syringe exchange program (SEP) that provides comprehensive clinical and social services in Philadelphia to inform in-depth semi-structured interviews with PWID (n=19) at the same location.
RESULTS: Participants expressed support for a potential SIF as a valuable public health intervention. They suggested that an SIF would improve PWID health while reducing the public disorder associated with injecting drugs in public. The latter was especially important to participants without stable housing, whose decision to inject furtively in secluded places was often motivated by desire not to upset community members, and particularly children. These participants acknowledged that such seclusion elevated the risk of fatal overdose. Despite similarly positive perceptions about an SIF, participants with stable housing reported that they would prefer to continue injecting at home.
CONCLUSION: Results both confirm and extend prior research about PWID and SIFs. Participants expressed support for SIFs as in prior survey research in the U.S. and in other countries. Facility location and housing status were identified as important determinants of facility use. Results extend prior research by illuminating PWID perceptions in the U.S. including motivations grounded in concern for public order.

Perceptions about supervised injection facilities among people who inject drugs in Philadelphia

Perceptions about supervised injection facilities among people who inject drugs in Philadelphia (533)

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