Stopping the Spread by Using Sterile Needles Instead: A Rural Community Pharmacy Hepatitis C/HIV Prevention Feasibility Study

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Purpose: Prescription and illicit opioid abuse have disproportionately impacted the Central Appalachian Region. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicate the region is home to many of the 220 counties most vulnerable to rapid dissemination of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and HIV related to injection drug use. Growing evidence supports the role of community pharmacies in HCV/HIV prevention by providing access to non-prescription sterile syringes; however, research has largely been confined to major metropolitan areas. The objective of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of community pharmacies in Central Appalachia serving as access points for sterile syringes.

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board. Using state directories of health professionals, community pharmacists from Northeast Tennessee, Western North Carolina, and Southwest Virginia were randomly selected to participate in key informant interviews to inform understanding of the impact of attitudes, beliefs, and state-level policies on pharmacists’ syringe dispensing behaviors (N=15). Informed consent was obtained prior to initiating the interviews and participants were provided modest compensation for their time. The semi-structured interviews were guided by Theory of Planned Behavior constructs to focus the interview on evidence-based predictors of behaviors. Interviews were audio-recorded, de-identified, transcribed, and are currently being thematically analyzed by the research team with NVivo software. The results of this study are expected to inform development of a survey instrument for a larger quantitative evaluation of pharmacists' perceptions on syringe dispensing in the region.

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Orlando, FL

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