A matter of convenience: Factors influencing secondary syringe exchange in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Chelsea Voytek, Susan G. Sherman, Benjamin Junge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Distribution of sterile syringes to reduce the circulation of HIV-infection among injection drug user (IDU) communities is vital in curbing the spread of HIV among IDUs. In addition to other methods of distribution, syringe exchange programmes (SEPs) have been shown to be necessary in the dissemination of sterile syringes. Secondary syringe exchange (SSE) is an organic process by which IDUs distribute syringes to other IDUs and is an important complement to SEPs. This paper examines the motivations for people who provide SSE to other IDUs and the reasons why some IDUs do not use the Baltimore Needle Exchange Program (BNEP). Approximately 5000 individuals had obtained clean syringes from the BNEP between 1994 and 1997. In 1997, qualitative interviews were conducted in Baltimore with 20 providers of SSE and 10 SSE recipients who had never used the BNEP. Data from qualitative interviews were transcribed, coded and compiled. SSE providers reported economic gain and altruism as incentives. SSE recipients reported privacy, convenience of location and time, force of habit, and concern for carrying paraphernalia around as reasons influencing them to obtain syringes from secondary syringe exchangers rather than the needle exchange programme. Results from this study illuminate the social context in which SSE occurs and indicate the importance of SSE as a method for distributing sterile syringes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-467
Number of pages3
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Injection drug use
  • Qualitative research
  • Secondary syringe exchange

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


Dive into the research topics of 'A matter of convenience: Factors influencing secondary syringe exchange in Baltimore, Maryland, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this