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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: Detachable Needles on Syringes Promote
Thomas H. Maugh II
February 19, 2010
Los Angeles Times (02.17.10) - Friday, February 19, 2010

In San Francisco Friday at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Yale University School of Medicine researchers will present a study, reportedly the first of its kind, of the viability of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in used syringes. When shared among injecting drug users, syringes with detachable needles are more likely to transfer HCV from one person to another, the results show.

In their experiment, Dr. Elijah Paintsil and colleagues loaded HCV-infected blood into syringes, depressed the plunger, and measured the amount of HCV in the residual blood at that time and again nine weeks later. In detachable-needle syringes, HCV persisted at nine weeks in most temperatures. In syringes with attached needles, much less viable HCV was noted.

Paintsil said prevention specialists operating needle-exchange programs should be aware of the study's results, though he noted that detachable-needle syringes are used much more commonly by drug injectors outside the United States.