Article

Journal of Urban Health

, 86:946

First online:

Who Purchases Nonprescription Syringes? Characterizing Customers of the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP)

  • Haven B. BattlesAffiliated withNew York State Department of Health AIDS Institute Email author 
  • , Kirsten A. RoweAffiliated withNew York State Department of Health AIDS Institute
  • , Christina Ortega-PelusoAffiliated withNew York State Department of Health AIDS Institute
  • , Susan J. KleinAffiliated withNew York State Department of Health AIDS Institute
  • , James M. TesorieroAffiliated withNew York State Department of Health AIDS Institute

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Abstract

This study represents the first attempt in the USA to survey pharmacy nonprescription syringe customers at their point of purchase. We surveyed 62 individuals purchasing nonprescription syringes in seven pharmacies located in NYC and Albany, NY, USA. Three quarters of respondents purchased for illicit use, and 36% purchased for medical use, with differences found by race and gender. Half got their syringes from pharmacies “most of the time.” Half had ever been refused a syringe purchase in a NYS pharmacy, with men, Blacks, and Hispanics reporting higher levels of refusals than women or whites. Two thirds reported syringe reuse but very few reported sharing. While approximately one quarter safely obtained and disposed of syringes “most of the time,” two thirds used both safe and unsafe methods. Pharmacy-based syringe access programs are essential in areas not served by syringe exchanges.

Keywords

Injection drug use Syringe access ESAP Harm reduction Syringe disposal Blood-borne disease transmission Pharmacy customer