Although there has been research around the benefits of Low Dead Space (LDS) injecting equipment for a number of years there has been an increasing interest in it recently. Even the New York Times has featured articles on the subject. So it's clear that now is the ideal time for some innovation in the development of injecting kit.
It should be no surprise, especially to people based in the UK, that this innovation is being led by Exchange Supplies. They have always been leaders in developing high quality harm reduction equipment, with single use sachets of citric and VitC, water, nevershares etc. All developed in response to research, and all developed before other companies even identify a need (although many are quick to try and copy them afterwards).
Last Year Exchange Supplies released a LDS 1ml barrel where the plunger extends all the way up to the needle itself. While this is a great product (and it really is) it doesn't help people using other barrel sizes. One way around this would be making the needle the part that is LDS.
Which they've done
A couple of days ago, with no real announcement, the folks at Exchange Supplies put out a few boxes of LDS orange ends on a conference stand. These needles solve the problem of how to have LDS on any barrel.
As you can see from this image, the needle on the left is a standard orange end which has a high dead space area for blood to collect in, while the needle on the right extends into the tip of the barrel filling up that dead space and reducing the amount of blood that will be contained.
I talked to Andrew Preston (Director of Exchange Supplies) about the new 'Total Dose' range and he told me that initally they have developed both long and short orange ends as the costs involved in the 'tooling' is quite high, but they intend to expand the range into the rest of the available needles as soon as possible.
This is an important development in reducing the risks of injectors acquiring blood borne virus's, and something I hope all needle programmes start stocking (and not only stocking but actually explaining to people why they need these).
For more information on LDS you can read Jamie Bridge's article on William Zule's previous research, and his latest research that was presented in the Journal of Drug Policy.
Nigel Brunsdon is the owner of Injecting Advice.com. He's been working in harm reduction since the 1990's, although he's previously a frontline needle programme worker he now spends most of his time developing online resources for drugs workers and users.