Chlorine disinfection tablets are an inexpensive, discrete, safe, and highly portable alternative to thin bleach that can be distributed to increase the frequency and effectiveness of syringe cleaning.
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We think that needle and syringe programmes should give at least one strip of two tablets per transaction in order to ensure that injectors have enough to be able to disinfect used syringes whenever they need to.
Of course, as part of the transaction, injectors should be advised to never re-use injecting equipment, and that cleaning can never provide an absolute guarantee of protection from infection. However, distributing the tablets enables NSP workers to easily open a dialogue about disinfection of equipment and gives injectors the opportunity to have the means to disinfect previously used equipment with them at all times, which will greatly reduce the risk of syringe reuse.
We are all working towards all illicit drug injections being administered with sterile equipment but this is a huge task, and re-use of syringes remains common. At current distribution levels every syringe issued is used an average of 3 times, making workable strategies to encourage disinfection vital in the fight against the spread of BBV’s and bacterial infections.
In a perfect world all syringes used by drug injectors would previously unused and therefore sterile. But, we should never allow the ‘perfect to be the enemy of the good’ and harm reduction is about using pragmatic strategies to ensure the best possible outcomes for drug users in the UK.
We would recommend that 2 tablets are offered at every transaction, so that injecting drug users have access to the equipment they (or their friends) need to clean syringes at all times.
The individual effervescent Chlorine Tablets are based on what is known as a a dry chlorine donor, sodium dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC). The NaDCC is blended with effervescent components (which ensure it dissolves quickly in water) before being compressed into tablets and put in individual sachets. The result is a fast-dissolving, highly convenient, and accurate alternative to liquid bleach.