Hepatitis C prevention and convenience: why do people who inject drugs in sexual partnerships ‘run out’ of sterile equipment?
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This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Critical Public Health on 29/04/2015, available online at <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09581596.2015.1036839">http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09581596.2015.1036839</a>
Rates of hepatitis C virus transmission among people who inject drugs in Australia remain high despite decades of prevention education. A key site of transmission is the sharing of injecting equipment within sexual partnerships. Responsibility for avoiding transmission has long been understood individually, as have the measures designed to help individuals fulfil this responsibility, such as the distribution of sterile injecting equipment. This individualising tendency has been criticised for placing an unfair level of responsibility on poorly resourced, marginalised people and ignoring the social nature of injecting drug use and related health care. Likewise, although research has demonstrated that injecting drug use is gendered, gender and sexual partnerships remain marginal to health promotion efforts. In this article, we address these weaknesses, drawing on a qualitative, interview-based project that explored equipment sharing within (hetero)sexual partnerships. In conducting our analysis, we explore a key theme that emerged in discussions about accessing and sharing injecting equipment, that of convenience, using critical marketing theory to understand this theme. In particular, we investigate the issues of convenience that affect the use of sterile injecting equipment, the many factors that shape convenience itself, and the aspects of equipment use that go beyond convenience and into the realm of intimacy and meaning. We conclude that injecting equipment needs to be both meaningful and convenient if sharing within partnerships is to be reduced further.
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