Background: COVID-19 has likely affected the delivery of interventions to prevent blood-borne viruses (BBVs) among people who inject drugs (PWID). We examined the impact of the first wave of COVID-19 in Scotland on: 1) needle and syringe provision (NSP), 2) opioid agonist therapy (OAT) and 3) BBV testing.

Methods: An interrupted time series study design; 23rd March 2020 (date of the first 'lockdown') was chosen as the key date.

Results: The number of HIV tests and HCV tests in drug services/prisons, and the number of needles/syringes (N/S) distributed decreased by 94% (RR=0.062, 95% CI 0.041-0.094, p < 0.001), 95% (RR=0.049, 95% CI 0.034-0.069, p < 0.001) and 18% (RR = 0.816, 95% CI 0.750-0.887, p < 0.001), respectively, immediately after lockdown. Post-lockdown, an increasing trend was observed relating to the number of N/S distributed (0.6%; RR = 1.006, 95% CI 1.001-1.012, p = 0.015), HIV tests (12.1%; RR = 1.121, 95% CI 1.092-1.152, p < 0.001) and HCV tests (13.2%; RR = 1.132, 95 CI 1.106-1.158, p < 0.001). Trends relating to the total amount of methadone prescribed remained stable, but a decreasing trend in the number of prescriptions (2.4%; RR = 0.976, 95% CI 0.959-0.993, p = 0.006) and an increasing trend in the quantity prescribed per prescription (2.8%; RR = 1.028, 95% CI 1.013-1.042, p < 0.001) was observed post-lockdown.

Conclusions: COVID-19 impacted the delivery of BBV prevention services for PWID in Scotland. While there is evidence of service recovery; further effort is likely required to return some intervention coverage to pre-pandemic levels in the context of subsequent waves of COVID-19.


Crown Copyright © 2022 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Cite as

Trayner, K., McAuley, A., Palmateer, N., Yeung, A., Goldberg, D., Glancy, M., Hunter, C., Ritchie, T., Craik, J., Raeburn, F., McTaggart, S., Barnsdale, L., Campbell, J., Shepherd, S., Bradley-Stewart, A., Gunson, R., Templeton, K. & Hutchinson, S. 2022, 'Examining the impact of the first wave of COVID-19 and associated control measures on interventions to prevent blood-borne viruses among people who inject drugs in Scotland: an interrupted time series study', Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 1 March 2022, 232, article no: 109263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2021.109263

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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