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NICE To Update Guidance on “Needle Risk”

September 24, 2013
Public Health

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is updating its guidance on needle and syringe exchanges in response to a change in the profile of drug users. Previously the scheme was aimed primarily at intravenous drug users but a sharp increase in the number of people using needles for so called ?vanity treatments? which include Botox, tanning agents and dermal fillers have caused a rethink. Rajiv Grover president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons admits that it’s difficult to quantify the size of the problem; “Due to the lack of regulation in the cosmetic sector it is impossible to know how many patients could be at risk of blood borne diseases from needle sharing with either Botox or fillers.??

Earlier this month a study by Public Health England (PHE) suggested that men who inject anabolic steroids and tanning agents are at higher risk of contracting HIV and viral hepatitis. Whilst cases of HIV and hepatitis B have slowly declined over the years, hepatitis C continues to be of concern with 43% of those injecting drugs testing positive for the virus in 2011. One of the recommendations proposed in the new guidance is that local authorities consider providing sharps boxes for the disposal of used needles. As Andy Dudley who co-ordinates Sheffield?s needle and syringe programme pointed out, boxes can also have a positive influence on the local environment; ?Sharps bins and drop boxes don’t only make the situation safer for the individual who is using the needle and syringe but also for their community. It ends where you don’t find needles and dirty works in parks, in public places and the user’s neighbourhood.? The new guidelines are open for public consultation until November 5th. http://www.nice.org.uk?

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