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Besides HIV, people who inject drugs (PWID) experience other biomedical adversities, including injection-related injuries and infections. Yet, they are often inadequately addressed due to the prioritisation of HIV-related issues. This article explored the risk environment and socio-structural adversities of PWID living with injection-related injuries and infections, as well as existing management and treatment challenges of these conditions in harm reduction interventions. We undertook an ethnographic study from April 2018 to December 2019 in selected areas of Dhaka, Bangladesh. This component of the study involved 2500 hours of observations and informal conversations, 35 in-depth interviews and five focus group discussions with PWID experiencing injection-related injuries and infections. We also performed seven key-informant interviews with service providers and clinical experts. We applied thematic analysis and used various theoretical social scientific conceptualisations to analyse the relationship between the biomedical realities and socio-structural vulnerabilities of PWID. Our findings indicated that PWID's physical, legal and socio-economic environments predisposed PWID to risky practices which ultimately precipitated injection-related injuries and infections. These injection-related injuries and infections consequently displaced them in spheres of social exclusion, stigmatisation, physical pain and disability and, hence, fueled their feelings of distress and despondence. Our findings also presented limitations in the management strategy of these injection-related injuries and infections. Specifically, service providers misconstrued all these complexities as "abscesses", thus applying a simplistic "one-size-fits-all" approach without accounting for the diversity of these complexities. This led to a paucity of tailored care and management approaches which could precipitate unfavourable treatment outcomes, such as chronic and complicated cases with antibiotic resistance. Injection-related injuries and infections nestled PWID within various prongs of biomedical and socio-structural adversity, without viable and targeted treatment modalities. Thus, it is integral to nurture a multifaceted harm reduction intervention tailored to their biomedical and socio-structural needs. Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.


Sharful Islam Khan, Samira Dishti Irfan, Mohammad Niaz Morshed Khan, Tanveer Khan Ibne Shafiq. The wound that closes doors: Lived experiences and complexities of injection-related injuries and infections among people who inject drugs through an ethnographic lens. The International journal on drug policy. 2021 May 14:103276

PMID: 34001413

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