Romanians Dangerously Stuck on Syringes
Shots can carry vitamins but spread hepatitis
FRIDAY, April 9 (HealthScout) -- The country that gave us Count
Dracula has a real-life enchantment with inserting sharp
objects into the skin. Officials find this unhealthful, even
if a goodly number of Romanians think it's for their own good.
this case, the sharp objects aren't fangs, but syringes. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that
a large number of Romanians prefer to take a needle to relieve
ailments that don't call for the use of needles.
to the CDC report, 120 million "therapeutic
injections" are given in that country each year -- or 5.3
for every man, woman, and child.
use injections to administer medications for things that in
the United States, we might not use them for," says
Catherine Dentinger, an epidemiologist with the CDC.
injections have dangerous consequences. The survey was
conducted because health officials saw a sharp rise in cases
of hepatitis B in children under age 5. The liver disease is
associated with dirty needles as well as what the CDC calls
the "overuse of injections" that "might
increase opportunities for transmission."
youngsters were no strangers to needles. In addition to
receiving vaccinations, 38 percent of them also got
"therapeutic injections," the report says.
to the CDC survey, 28 percent of Romanians wanted their
medications in a syringe to treat fever, 29 percent to relieve
a cold, and 17 percent to stop diarrhea. In addition, 42
percent preferred taking vitamin supplements in a needle. (The
survey didn't bother with illegal drugs.)
preferences were roughly even among all age groups. Women were
more likely to demand needles than men (55 to 45 percent).
survey of 1,197 Romanians showed that three in four
"believed injectable medications were 'stronger' than
oral medications," according to the results published in
the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
in other countries have shown that people prefer syringes
because they believe the drug works better when put through
the skin. The pain of the injection is a sign to them that
it's working immediately. Also, needles are a symbol of
says they're "cultural issues" that health officials
must overcome. "We would like to start to change
behavior," she says. "I, as a health care provider,
consider an injection invasive."
the most part, the Romanians are using clean needles and
aren't re-using them, Dentinger says. They're also well aware
of the link between needles and the AIDS virus.
people on dirt roads knew that you could get HIV from an
injection," she says. However, "nobody's quite as
clued in to hepatitis B as they are HIV." They don't
realize that one can get hepatitis B and C if an injection is
last thing health officials want is to make Romanians (or
people with similar feelings in other countries) afraid of
needles. "We don't want people not to get vaccines,"
she says. Besides, there is a vaccine that protects against