Understanding the Reasons for Sharing Syringes or Needles to Inject Drugs: Conventional Content Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of public health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Non-communicable Diseases Research Center, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran

3 Iranian National Center for Addiction Studies, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute for Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA



Background: This qualitative study was undertaken with the aim to identify the reasons for sharing syringes
or needles among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Iran.
Methods: We used purposive sampling to recruit 4 groups of participants, male PWID (n = 14), female PWID
(n = 6), service providers (n = 8), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/addiction experts (n = 9). Data
were collected through 2 focus group discussions (FGDs) among male PWID, and semi-structured interviews
with female PWID, service providers, and HIV/addiction experts. Using conventional content analysis,
themes were extracted for reasons for sharing needles to inject drugs.
Findings: We found 13 themes for barriers such as low perceived risk of HIV, high stigma around drug
injection and use, low access to harm reduction education and prevention services due to their limited
working hours as a well as uneven geographical distribution of services, some structural barriers like
incarceration, poverty, and homelessness, and several competing survival needs beyond the injection-related
safe behaviors.
Conclusion: Our study was able to provide the perspectives of both PWID and health care authorities and
providers towards several barriers to accessing HIV prevention services that lead to needle sharing among
PWID in Iran. These barriers need to be addressed to achieve the target of HIV epidemic control.