New syringe could cut HIV transmission

The development of a new type of syringe could cut HIV transmission among drug users.

Despite years of warnings, needle sharing remains a significant cause for the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases among intravenous drug users. A new study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy says simply changing the design of syringes could limit needle transmission, according to

When a syringe's plunger is fully depressed, a small amount of fluid becomes trapped in an area known as the dead space. If the size of the dead space can be reduced or even eliminated, researchers believe that they can reduce the amount of infectious blood trapped inside by a factor of 1,000.

Such a large reduction in infected blood would mean a corresponding reduction in the number of viral particles available to spread disease, reports.

A simulation showed researchers that switching to a new type of syringe could eliminate the spread of new HIV infections among intravenous drug users to nearly zero within eight years. Although a number of barriers remain to making such syringes available throughout the world, the researchers believe their work has found a way to keep millions of drug users free of disease.