OBJECTIVE: To assess preliminary results of the Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program (ESAP) in New York City. DESIGN: Temporal trends of pharmacy use among injection drug users (IDUs) in Brooklyn and Queens were analyzed from December 2000 through December 2001. SETTING: Brooklyn and Queens, New York City. PARTIPANTS: IDUs. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Attempts to purchase syringes from pharmacies and success in doing so. RESULTS: Of the 1,072 IDUs interviewed from December 2000 through December 2001, the majority were daily heroin injectors, but there was also substantial speedball and cocaine injection. There was a clear increase over time in both the percentage of subjects who attempted to purchase syringes in pharmacies and in the percentage who successfully purchased syringes. Among IDUs interviewed 4 or more months after ESAP began, large majorities of those who attempted to purchase syringes were successful in doing so. No differences in use of ESAP by IDUs were identified in Brooklyn versus Queens: 27% of IDUs interviewed in Queens reported that they had attempted to purchase syringes in pharmacies versus 28% in Brooklyn. Persons who reported injecting on a daily or more frequent basis were more likely to have attempted pharmacy purchases than persons who reported injecting less frequently, 32% versus 21%. CONCLUSIONS: The ESAP program has led to an increase in the use of pharmacies as sources of sterile injection equipment among IDUs in New York City. The extent to which pharmacies become an important source of sterile injection equipment and the effect of legal pharmacy sales on risk behaviors for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection remain to be determined.
Legal syringe purchases by injection drug users, Brooklyn and Queens, New York City, 2000-2001