Cheryl Brunton, Charles Henderson (Needle Exchange New Zealand) and Chantal Lauzon
Injecting drug users (IDU) are a population at high risk from blood borne virus infections, particularly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Three previous serosurveys of IDU clients of needle exchanges in New Zealand were done in 1997,1998 and 2004. The 2004 survey (BBVNEX2004) found a continued high prevalence of HCV but a very low prevalence of HIV. The majority of participants were not immune to HBV, and so at risk of infection.
During two weeks in March 2009, IDU clients attending twelve NZ needle exchanges will complete anonymous questionnaires, and provide finger-prick blood samples. for testing for HCV and HIV. The study questionnaire for BBVNEX2009 is similar to that used in the 2004 study. Examination of trends in the prevalence of risk behaviours and blood-borne virus infection will carried out and a report prepared for the Ministry of Health, who part-funded the study.