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BMJ-British Medical Journal, 2016.
We welcome the news item on the role of harm reduction in the ‘fight’ against HIV1 and we broadly agree with the findings of the report The Case for a Harm Reduction Decade: Progress, Potential and Paradigm Shifts.2 Clearly harm reduction for people who inject drugs (PWID) is having a positive impact on HIV in places such as the Ukraine, Nepal and parts of China and Kenya. This is supported by evidence of the long term impact of harm reduction approaches in controlling HIV among PWID in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia. The increased benefits of even a modest proportional shift in resource from the so called ‘War on Drugs’ to evidence based harm reduction policies is a compelling argument. However, in addition to addressing the needs of established drug injecting populations such as heroin and stimulant injectors, we must also get ahead of the curve in relation to emerging patterns of injecting drug use to reduce the number of new cases of HIV. The injection of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) has been largely overlooked in relation to blood borne virus risks. IPEDs are a collective term for anabolic steroids, growth hormones, other drugs to increase musculature and associated ancillary drugs, together with peptide hormones such as melanotan II (a synthetic melanocortin analogue) and other drugs that are used for enhancement purposes. A recent meta-analysis and meta-regression of 187 studies on anabolic steroid use indicated a global lifetime prevalence of 3.3%.3 IPED users are growing as a client group in many countries with long standing provision of needle and syringe programmes, such as Australia4 and the United Kingdom where many services now report that over half of their clients inject IPEDs.5 Furthermore, in the United Kingdom there is conclusive evidence of HIV being present within this group of PWID, with an HIV prevalence of 1.5%6 amongst men injecting IPEDs, a level that is comparable to that among those injecting opioids and/or stimulants in the UK. Finally, there is evidence that people using IPED are a very sexually active population with low rates of condom use suggesting a risk of HIV transmission through their sexual networks.6 The use of IPEDs and in particular the injection of anabolic steroids by men, must be viewed as a serious public health concern requiring the attention of policy makers. Addressing the needs of emerging and often hidden populations of PWID should be part of the focus for harm reduction interventions. 1 BMJ 2016;352:i1479 2 Harm Reduction International. The case for a harm reduction decade: progress, potential and paradigm shifts. 2016. www.ihra.net/harm-reduction-decade 3 Sagoe D, Molde H, Andreassen CS, et al. The global epidemiology of anabolic-androgenic steroid use: a meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis. Ann Epidemiol 2014;24:383-98. 4 Iversen J, Topp L, Wand H, et al. Are people who inject performance and image-enhancing drugs an increasing population of Needle and Syringe Program attendees? Drug Alcohol Rev. 2013;32:205-7. 5 Kimergård A, McVeigh J. Variability and dilemmas in harm reduction for anabolic steroid users in the UK: a multi-area interview study. Harm Reduct J 2014;11:19. 6 Hope VD, McVeigh J, Marongiu A, et al. Prevalence of, and risk factors for, HIV, hepatitis B and C infections among men who inject image and performance enhancing drugs: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open 2013;3:e003207.
Professor Padam Simkhada, Aditi Sharma, Edwin van Teijlingen, Rachel Beanland
Nepal Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 6, No 1, 2016.
Abstract: Background: Increased travel abroad has a significant impact on the incidence and prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Previous reviews have focused on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of tourists and acquisition of STIs. Less is known about the impact on tourism operators in countries visited by tourists. The aim of this review is to ascertain factors influencing sexual behaviour between workers in the tourism industry and tourists; exploring the prevalence of sexual behaviour between the two populations, their perceptions of sexual risk while engaging in sexual activities and the knowledge of tourism operators regarding STIs. Methods: A systematic review was conducted. Database searches were performed in Medline/Ovid, EMBASE, Cochrane library and CINAHL for studies published between 2000 and March 2016. Grey literature searches were completed in the NHS database and Google Scholar between 2000 and December 2013. Papers were independently selected by two researchers. Data were extracted and critically appraised using a pre-designed extraction form and adapted CASP checklist. Results: The search identified 1,602 studies and 16 were included after review of the full text. Studies were conducted in nine countries. Findings suggest that STI knowledge, attitude and practice were fairly good among tourists and tourism workers, but there is a need for pre-travel advice for travellers, especially those travelling to low and middle-income countries. Greater importance was given to tourists than to tourism operators and locals interacting with tourists. Studies suggest that as a group both tourist and tourist workers were likely to engage in sexual activities. Overall, both condom use and STI screening were low, among tourists as well as tourism operators. Furthermore, studies reported links between drug and alcohol use and sexual behaviour and risk taking. Conclusion: Although less research appeared to have been conducted among tourism workers than tourists, it does demonstrate the need for education, training and promotion of travel medicine. STI screening, pre-travel advice, travel history in terms of contracting STIs and safe-sex awareness-raising are needed. More and better sexual health education and relevant tourism policies are needed globally.
Yagya Prasad Subedi, Professor Padam Simkhada, Bishwambher Pyakuryal
Open Journal of Political Science Vol.6 No.2, PP. 168-178, 2016.
Abstract: Background: Historically, the process of nutrition transition begins with changes in economic structures which move away from agrarian economies to successful industrialisation, with high economic growth, urbanisation and increased real per capita income. Objective: The objective is to identify where Nepal is in economic transition and whether economic transition is considered as one of the proximate determinants of nutrition transition in Nepal. Results: Nepal’s position in the economic transition has been identified by using Popkin’s framework which is scaled from Pattern I to Pattern V. The time series trends indicated that new patterns of economic transition had been observed during 1995-2010, which was similar to the pattern IV of the Nutrition Transition as described by Popkin. The national income of Nepal increased over the past four decades. The GDP of Nepal has shown an annual increase at a rate of 3.92 per cent between 1970 and 2010. Conclusion: Economic growth and agricultural trade liberalization have induced plant fats supply in Nepal. Tourism has also transferred the taste and preferences of western foods to tourist destinations and urban centres, including potential negative health consequences related to excess consumption of fat, sugar and process foods.
Lorna Templeton, Christine Valentine, Jennifer McKell, Allison Ford, Richard Velleman, Tony Walter, Dr Gordon Hay, Linda Bauld, Joan Hollywood
Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy.
Abstract: Aims: Overdoses contribute disproportionately to drug-related deaths (DRDs) in the UK, yet little is known about the experiences and needs of those who are bereaved by such deaths, and how their experiences and needs might differ from other bereavements associated with substance use. Methods: An interview study with 32 adults in England and Scotland (part of a larger study). Findings: Five themes describe the core experiences of this group of bereaved people: drug use, the death, official processes, stigma, and overdose awareness and prevention. Together, these findings offer new insights in to the key features of this type of bereavement; for example, living with substance use including previous overdoses, difficult circumstances surrounding the death, having to negotiate the complex procedures involved in processing the death, the stigma such deaths attract, and feelings of guilt, self-blame and an unworthiness to grieve. Conclusions: There are ways in which bereavement following an overdose differs from bereavement following other deaths associated with alcohol or drugs. Understanding the experiences and needs of this marginalised group can help improve support for them. Furthermore, this group’s experience of witnessing and/or responding to previous overdoses indicates the value in prevention programmes targeting relatives/friends.
Relationships between adverse childhood experiences and adult mental well-being: results from an English national household survey
Professor Karen Hughes, Helen Lowey, Dr Zara Quigg, Professor Mark Bellis
BMC Public Health 16:222, 2016.
Abstract: Background: Individuals’ childhood experiences can strongly influence their future health and well-being. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as abuse and dysfunctional home environments show strong cumulative relationships with physical and mental illness yet less is known about their effects on mental well-being in the general population. Methods: A nationally representative household survey of English adults (n = 3,885) measuring current mental well-being (Short Edinburgh-Warwick Mental Well-being Scale SWEMWBS) and life satisfaction and retrospective exposure to nine ACEs. Results: Almost half of participants (46.4 %) had suffered at least one ACE and 8.3 % had suffered four or more. Adjusted odds ratios (AORs) for low life satisfaction and low mental well-being increased with the number of ACEs. AORs for low ratings of all individual SWEMWBS components also increased with ACE count, particularly never or rarely feeling close to others. Of individual ACEs, growing up in a household affected by mental illness and suffering sexual abuse had the most relationships with markers of mental well-being. Conclusions: Childhood adversity has a strong cumulative relationship with adult mental well-being. Comprehensive mental health strategies should incorporate interventions to prevent ACEs and moderate their impacts from the very earliest stages of life.
Risk of HIV and Hepatitis B and C Over Time Among Men Who Inject Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs in England and Wales: Results From Cross-Sectional Prevalence Surveys, 1992-2013
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1;71(3):331-7, 2016.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Infection risks among people who inject drugs (PWID) are widely recognized, but few studies have focused on image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs). Globally, concern about IPED injection has increased and, in the United Kingdom, IPED injectors have become the largest group using Needle and Syringe Programmes. Blood-borne virus prevalence trends among IPED injectors are explored. METHOD: Data from 2 surveys of IPED injectors (2010-2011; 2012-2013) and the national bio-behavioral surveillance system for PWID (1992-1997; 1998-2003; 2004-2009) were merged. Psychoactive drug injectors and women were excluded. Logistic regression analyses explored temporal changes. RESULTS: Between 1992 and 2009, median age increased from 25 to 29 years (N = 1296), years injecting from 2 to 4. There were 53 men who had sex with men (MSM). Overall, 0.93% had HIV, 4.4% ever had hepatitis B (HBV), and 3.9% hepatitis C (HCV, from 1998, N = 1083). In multivariable analyses, HIV increased in 2004-2009 [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 10 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.94 to 106) vs. 1992-2003], and remained elevated (AOR = 4.12, 95% CI: 0.31 to 54, 2012-2013); HBV also increased in 2004-2009 (AOR = 3.98, 95% CI: 1.59 to 9.97). HCV prevalence increase was only borderline significant (AOR = 2.47, 95% CI: 0.90 to 6.77, 2010-2011). HIV and HBV were associated with MSM and HCV with sharing needles/syringes. Uptake of diagnostic testing for HIV and HCV, and HBV vaccination increased (to 43%, 32% and 44% respectively). Condom use was consistently poor; needle/syringe sharing occurred. CONCLUSION: Blood-borne virus prevalences among IPED injectors have increased and for HIV, is now similar to that among psychoactive drug injectors. Targeted interventions to reduce risks are indicated.
Pramod Regmi, Edwin van Teijlingen, Vanora Hundley, Professor Padam Simkhada, Sheetal Sharma, Preeti Mahato
Health Prospect Vol 15, No 1, 2016.
In 2000, the United Nations (UN) adopted eight MillenniumDevelopment Goals (MDGs), three of these focused on health although several other MDGs included health-related components such as nutrition and sanitation (1). Overall progress towards the MDGs has been inspiring and specifically the health-related targets, e.g. MDG4 (reduce child mortality), MDG5 (improve maternal health) and MDG6 (combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases) have been promising. For example, the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has fallen by 44% (from 341 in 2000 to 216 per 100,000 live births in 2015) and under-five mortality in the same period dropped by 53% (2). Despite these achievements, the world has failed to meet these MDG targets for both maternal mortality and under-five mortality, a fact recognised by maternal health practitioners, policy-makers and researchers across the globe (3). Moreover, progress has not advanced equally across the globe, for instance, improvements in MMR have been better in Southeast Asia (69% reduction) and the Western Pacific (64% reduction) (2).
Not in the vein: ‘missed hits’, subcutaneous and intramuscular injections and associated harms among people who inject psychoactive drugs in Bristol, United Kingdom
Professor Vivian Hope, J. V. Parry, Fortune Ncube, Matthew Hickman
Int J Drug Policy. 2016 Feb; 28:83-90, 2016.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The extent of intentional or accidental subcutaneous and intramuscular injections and the factors associated with these have rarely been studied among people who inject drugs, yet these may play an important role in the acquisition bacterial infections. This study describes the extent of these, and in particular the factors and harms associated with accidental subcutaneous and intramuscular injections (i.e. 'missed hits'). METHODS: People who inject drugs were recruited using respondent driven sampling. Weighted data was examined using bivariate analyses and logistic regression. RESULTS: The participants mean age was 33 years (31% aged under 30-years), 28% were women, and the mean time since first injection was 12 years (N=329). During the preceding three months, 97% had injected heroin, 71% crack-cocaine, and 16% amphetamines; 36% injected daily. Overall, 99% (325) reported that they aimed to inject intravenously; only three aimed to inject subcutaneously and one intramuscularly. Of those that aimed to inject intravenously, 56% (181) reported ever missing a vein (for 51 this occurred more than four times month on average). Factors associated with 'missed hits' suggested that these were the consequence of poor vascular access, injection technique and/or hygiene. 'Missed hits' were twice as common among those reporting sores/open wounds, abscesses, or redness, swelling and tenderness at injection sites. CONCLUSION: Intentional subcutaneous and intramuscular injections are rare in this sample. 'Missed hits' are common and appear to be associated with poor injection practice. Interventions are required to reduce risk through improving injecting practice and hygiene.
Simon Russell, Professor Karen Hughes, Professor Mark Bellis
BMJ Open, 2016.
Abstract: Objectives: To examine the relative contribution of childhood experience, measured by childhood violence and childhood happiness, and adult well-being on adult eating preferences and behaviours, independent of proximal factors such as current deprivation. Design: A cross-sectional, stratified, randomised sample survey using retrospective measures of childhood violence and happiness and self-reported measures of current well-being. Setting: The North West Region of England between September 2012 and March 2013. Participants: Individuals aged 18–95-year-olds from randomly selected households ( participation was successful for 90% of eligible households and 78% of the total visited addresses; n=11 243). Outcomes: Dichotomised measures for preference of healthy foods or ‘feel good’ foods and low or high daily fruit and vegetable consumption. Results: After correcting for demographics, combined categories for childhood experience and dichotomised measures of adult well-being were found to be significantly related to adult food preferences and eating behaviours. Participants with unhappy and violent childhoods compared to those with happy and non-violent childhoods had adjusted ORs (95% CI, significance) of 2.67 (2.15 to 3.06, p<0.001) of having low daily fruit and vegetable intake (two or less portions) and 1.53 (1.29 to 1.81, p<0.001) of choosing ‘feel good’ foods over foods which were good for their long term health. Conclusions: Daily intake of fruit and vegetables, linked to non-communicable diseases, and preference for ‘feel good’ foods, linked to obesity, are affected by childhood experience and adult well-being independent of demographic factors. Preventative interventions which support parent–child relationships and improve childhood experience are likely to reduce the development of poor dietary and other health-risk behaviours.
Preeti Mahato, Pramod Regmi, Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor Padam Simkhada, Catherine Angell, Brijesh Sathian
Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 5(4): 518–519, 2015.
A massive earthquake hit Nepal in April followed by a strong aftershock in May. The earthquake had an impact in 31 districts out of the 75 districts of the country and total death toll reached 9,000, injured 23,000 and damaged 900,000 houses. Recent global and regional publications have indicated growing public health concerns and rebuilding infrastructures following the earthquake [2,3,4]; however none of the articles have focused on reproductive health care services, particularly on birthing centres in Nepal.