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.