Participants of a mail delivery syringe services program are underserved by other safe sources for sterile injection supplies

Benjamin T. Hayes, Jamie Favaro, Dan Coello, Czarina N. Behrends, Andrea Jakubowski, Aaron D. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the United States, accessing sterile injection supplies remains challenging for many people who inject drugs (PWID). Although women are less likely to inject drugs than men, women who do inject are disproportionately affected by IDU-related complications. Needle Exchange Technology (NEXT), the first formal online accessed mail delivery syringe services program (SSP) in the US, may overcome access barriers. We evaluated whether NEXT was reaching women participants and people without access to other safe sources of sterile injection supplies. Methods: This cross-sectional study examined NEXT participants who enrolled in the mail-delivery SSP from February 2018 through March 2021. All NEXT participants completed an online questionnaire during enrollment, which included sociodemographic and clinical characteristics and injection-related risk factors (including prior sources of sterile injection supplies). Multivariable logistic regression (MVR) was used to examine associations between gender and prior use of safe sources of injection supplies (i.e., SSPs or pharmacies). Results: 1,032 participants received injection supplies. Median age was 34 and participants were mostly cis-gendered women (55%) and white (93%). 34% reported infection with HCV; women were more likely to report HCV infection than men (38% vs 28%; p < 0.01). 68% of participants acquired injection supplies from less safe sources. Few participants exclusively used safe sources for injection supplies (26%). In adjusted MVR analysis, women participants had significantly lower odds than men of having exclusively used safe sources for injection supplies (adjusted OR 0.71, 95% CI 0.52, 0.98). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that NEXT services are utilized by women and people without prior access to sterile injection supplies. Women participants were less likely than men to have exclusively used safe sources for sterile injection supplies. Future research should explore women's preference for mail-delivery over in-person SSPs and determine whether online accessed mail delivery services can reach other underserved populations of PWID.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103474
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Harm reduction
  • Mail delivery
  • Syringe services program
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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