There is always bound to be a degree of controversy about Needle and Syringe Programs. For some people, personal beliefs and values shape their attitudes towards public health interventions to a greater extent than scientific evidence. However, evidence of the effectiveness of Needle and Syringe Programs is consistent and compelling and has been sufficient to persuade many major scientific authorities and governments around the world about the substantial benefits of these programs. Needle and Syringe Programs are a critical component of strategies to reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood borne viral infections among injecting drug users and the wider community. These Programs have been found to be highly cost-effective compared to the cost of treating HIV and hepatitis C infection. Needle and Syringe Programs have not been found to increase drug injecting, discarded used injecting equipment or result in any other serious negative consequences. These programs also facilitate referral to drug treatment and other health services. In areas where Needle and Syringe Programs have been established, they generally receive strong community support.

Authors:

Dr Kate Dolan, Mr Edmund Silins and Ms Libby Topp, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney.

Ms Margaret MacDonald, National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research UNSW, Sydney. 1999, 2005.