Needle and syringe programs: your questions answered

Why are needle and syringe programs necessary?

Page last updated: 2005

Needle and Syringe Programs are an important public health measure. These Programs have prevented people from sharing injecting equipment and have thus prevented the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs.

This has meant that in Australia, HIV infection is very rare among both injecting drug users and the wider community. In some countries, such as the United States and parts of Europe, where Needle and Syringe Programs were not established in time, HIV spread rapidly among injecting drug users and to the wider community through sexual contact. In Australia, the level of HIV infection among people who inject drugs has remained around 1%, compared to other countries with levels over 50%.

Needle and Syringe Programs reduce HIV infection among drug injectors. This means that when people stop injecting drugs, as most do, it is more likely that they will be HIV negative.

Needle and Syringe Programs have prevented thousands of cases of HIV and hepatitis C infection among people who inject drugs and in turn have protected the wider community.

Australian National Council on Drugs:

The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) strongly supports Needle and Syringe Programs. Evidence clearly indicates that these programs make a significant contribution to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood borne viral infections.

The ANCD recognises that Needle and Syringe Programs can be a unique referral point into drug treatment services for people involved in drug use, and as a result continues to endorse the Australian Government's commitment to expanding and enhancing Needle and Syringe Programs and to creating further linkages with treatment, counselling, education and other support services.