Why needle and syringe programs (NSP) are necessary

Needle and syringe programs:

  • reduce the incidence of sharing and re-using of injecting equipment which in turn reduces the spread of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C among people who inject drugs and the wider community
  • reduce other health harms that may result from injecting drugs
  • are often the only contact that people who inject drugs have with the health system
  • provide people who inject drugs with information on safer injecting and drug treatment services
  • encourage the safe disposal of needles and syringes
  • work together with drug treatment and education services to reduce drug-related harm in our community
  • are cost-effective. HIV can cause AIDS and hepatitis C can cause liver disease and other serious illnesses. Treating these diseases costs far more than preventing them through programs like NSP. It was estimated that between 2000 and 2009 NSPs have avoided 32,050 HIV infections, and 96,667 hepatitis C infections resulting in $1.28bn saved in healthcare costs (DoHA 2009).

For further information read the Australian Government Department of Health Needle and syringe programs information kit (external site).

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Public Health