The arrival of HIV has challenged the traditional services for intravenous drug users providing the impetus to re-examine working practices. Only 10% of intravenous drug users attend hospital based treatment centres offering out-patient programmes based on reducing doses of oral methadone with an ultimate goal of abstinence (Hartnoll et al, 1985), yet for public health programmes designed to limit the spread of HIV it is important to increase the contact between high-risk groups and health professionals. Satellite clinics originally introduced to provide low cost help for drug users at a more local level may also be effective as a means of reaching intravenous drug users at high risk of HIV who would otherwise not be exposed to treatment and health education. Strang has described how a satellite clinic may be established with few resources, with staff who can be supervised by more senior workers at a central site (Strang & Creed, 1985). In this study the client groups of a satellite clinic and a conventional drug dependency unit were compared in order to characterise the clientele of the satellite clinic and to discover whether it was indeed fulfilling a useful role in terms of attracting such high-risk individuals for treatment.
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