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As a part of the HIV behavioural surveillance system in Switzerland, repeated cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 1993, 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2006 among attenders of all low threshold facilities (LTFs) with needle exchange programmes and/or supervised drug consumption rooms for injection or inhalation in Switzerland. Data were collected in each LTF over five consecutive days, using a questionnaire that was partly completed by an interviewer and partly self administered. The questionnaire was structured around three topics: socio-demographic characteristics, drug consumption, health and risk/preventive behaviour. Analysis was restricted to attenders who had injected drugs during their lifetime (IDUs). Between 1993 and 2006, the median age of IDUs rose by 10 years. IDUs are severely marginalised and their social situation has improved little. The borrowing of used injection equipment (syringe or needle already used by other person) in the last six months decreased (16.5% in 1993, 8.9% in 2006) but stayed stable at around 10% over the past three surveys. Other risk behaviour, such as sharing spoons, cotton or water, was reported more frequently, although also showed a decreasing trend. The reported prevalence of HIV remained fairly stable at around 10% between 1993 and 2006; reported levels of hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence were high (56.4% in 2006). In conclusion, the overall decrease in the practice of injection has reduced the potential for transmission of infections. However as HCV prevalence is high this is of particular concern, as the current behaviour of IDUs indicates a potential for further spreading of the infection. Another noteworthy trend is the significant decrease in condom use in the case of paid sex.


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