March 16, 2010
The evidence that needle and syringe programs (NSPs) are effective in preventing HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) is weaker than acknowledged in the current scientific literature, a new analysis of research suggests. The new review of English-language literature to March 2007 included for analysis three high-quality "core" reviews and two supplementary ones.
The metareview found sufficient evidence that NSPs reduce self-reported injecting risk behavior (IRB), and tentative evidence that alternative pharmacy NSPs have an additional impact on IRB. UK researchers found only tentative evidence that NSPs are effective in preventing HIV and insufficient support for their preventing HCV. However, of the five reviews, three did not examine HCV "in any depth," noted Norah Palmateer, of Health Protection Scotland, and colleagues.
"Insufficient or weak evidence of an effect is not evidence of no effect," said Palmateer. "It is more a reflection of the studies and evidence available."
03.11.2010; Amy Norton
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