May 28, 2013
Seminar and report launch highlights need for new approaches to respond to injecting drug use in Dublin City Centre for the benefit of drug users and the wider community.
Mr. Alex White,TD, Minister of State for Primary Care formally launched the seminar “A Safer City for All – addressing the risks of injecting drug use” organised by Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) and Ana Liffey Drug Project (ALDP) at MQI’s Riverbank centre, today 28th May 2013. The seminar included the launch of a report by MQI on the experiences of 388 people who use their Needle Programme.
The report shows:
• High levels of poly drug use. While the most prevalent drug was heroin, the report shows the majority of drug users are now poly drug users with (75%) using more than one drug
• High levels of Hepatitis C (Hep C) and other blood borne viruses (BBV) amongst intravenous drug users (IDUs). 45% of IDUs in the study reported being positive for Hep C
• A high risk group of IDUs, where a high incidence of unsafe injecting practices and sharing of equipment are combined with low rates of testing for HIV and Hep C
• Low access to treatment amongst IDUs who tested positive for Hep C. out of 125 who tested positive for Hep C only 18 were in treatment
Following on from the report, speakers at the seminar called for the following recommendations to be considered:
• There is a need for easy access to medical detoxification for poly-drug users. Many detoxification centres are currently aimed people who use only a single substance such as heroin, or require users to meet relatively high thresholds of stability to access treatment, which can further marginalise a proportion of drug users from treatment
• Access to blood borne virus (BBV) testing & treatment needs to be available in current service centres such as MQI’s Health Promotion Unit and ALDP’s Medical Service
• Explore the concept of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres (MSIC) currently in use in other cities i.e. Madrid or Sydney. These centres can provide early intervention and address issues related to on street injecting
Speaking at the launch Tony Geoghegan CEO of Merchants Quay Ireland said “the report confirms people are still using heroin, but polydrug use is now the dominant trend. This means detox services in Ireland have to match the need. In Ireland there are currently no detox options for this group. Furthermore the report shows a critical need for testing for Hep C and other Blood borne viruses (BBVs) in this at risk group to improve individual health through appropriate treatment but also to reduce the spread of the these diseases.
MQI’s current Needle and Syringe Programmes are about harm reduction. Service provision reduces levels of anti-social behaviour, reduces the harm of drug use and can be a first point of contact for detox and rehabilitation options”
Tony Duffin, Director at Ana Liffey Drug Project, commenting on the main findings of the report, stated “Of particular interest to me is the finding that 14% of the people surveyed reported generally using in public areas. Ana Liffey is committed to exploring innovative models to address these concerns”.
This seminar comes from a specific recommendation from the report “A Better City for All” launched last year, commissioned by representatives of Dublin City Council and a range of community, voluntary and statutory groups.
Speakers at the event include Neil Hunt and research lead Ciaran Jennings.
Watch Tony Duffin's Presentation at the conference below: