Usage of low dead space syringes and association with hepatitis C prevalence amongst people who inject drugs in the UK

Adam Trickey*, Margaret T. May, Vivian Hope, Zoe Ward, Monica Desai, Ellen Heinsbroek, Matthew Hickman, Peter Vickerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction : Syringes with attached needles (low dead space syringes [LDSS]) retain far less blood following injection than syringes with detachable needles (high dead space syringes [HDSS]). People who inject drugs (PWID) who share needles/syringes may be less likely to acquire Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection using LDSS, compared with HDSS, but data are limited.
Methods : Utilizing drug behavior and HCV antibody testing data from the UK 2014/2015 Unlinked Anonymous Monitoring Survey of PWID, we calculated the percentage of syringes used in the past month that were LDSS. We investigated which injecting characteristics and demographic factors were associated with 100% LDSS (against 0–99%) usage, and whether 100% LDSS use was associated with antibody HCV-status, after adjusting for confounders.
Result : Of 2174 participants, 55% always used LDSS, 27% always used HDSS, and 17% used both LDSS and HDSS. PWID that had injected into their groin during the past month were unlikely to use LDSS, adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.14 (95% confidence interval 0.11–0.17), compared to those not using the groin. Those injecting crack were less likely to use LDSS than those not, aOR 0.79 (0.63–0.98). Polydrug use was negatively associated with LDSS use, aOR 0.88 (0.79-0.98) per additional drug. LDSS use was associated with lower prevalent HCV among all PWID (aOR 0.77, [0.64–0.93]), which was stronger among recent initiates (aOR 0.53 [0.30–0.94]) than among experienced PWID (aOR 0.81 [0.66–0.99]).
Discussion : People who inject into their groin were less likely to use LDSS. Exclusive LDSS use was associated with lower prevalence of HCV amongst PWID that started injecting recently, suggesting LDSS use is protective against HCV.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date15 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Dead space syringes
  • HCV
  • High dead space syringes
  • IDU
  • Injecting drugs
  • Low
  • Safe injecting


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