This is a qualitative study focusing on the sharing of drug injecting equipment within sexual relationships between people who inject drugs. This context of sharing is of central concern to public health as surveillance data from a number of sources shows that the majority of equipment sharing occurs between sexual partners. Sexual relationships are qualitatively different from other relationships and specific features of sexual relationships may contribute to equipment sharing in ways not found in other social relationships, such as friendships. Nevertheless, very little research to date has focused on sexual partnerships as a site of hepatitis C prevention or transmission. There is an urgent need to better document and understand the obstacles to discussing and acting on hepatitis C prevention advice within sexual partnerships, and to develop transferable insights into the negotiation strategies that are most effective. We plan to adapt these insights into recommendations for more effective policy and practice aimed at preventing hepatitis C transmission in four areas: prevention education for people who inject drugs, health promotion strategies employed by front-line health workers, packaging and design of equipment, and policy regarding distribution of sterile injecting equipment.
NHMRC Project Grant, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing