Needle and syringe programs: your questions answered

Do needle and syringe programs increase discarding of used needles and syringes?

Page last updated: 2005

Studies conducted in Australia and overseas have found there is no increase in the discarding of used needles and syringes following the introduction of Needle and Syringe Programs.

Needle and Syringe Programs help reduce the number of improperly discarded needles and syringes by providing disposal bins and containers, educating clients about safe disposal and by clearing discarded injecting equipment from areas where injecting drug use occurs.

All Needle and Syringe Programs accept needles and syringes from the public regardless of whether or not they are clients. This means that if people with diabetes and other medical conditions do not have access to disposal facilities through Diabetes Australia, community pharmacies or local councils, they can dispose of used needles and syringes at Needle and Syringe Programs.

Studies show that most injecting drug users do not discard used needles and syringes in public areas.

Some pharmacies and syringe vending machines provide injecting equipment in special containers or Fitpacks™ which double as disposal containers. The containers have an internal moulded flap which 'lock in' used needles and syringes, preventing both re-use and inappropriate disposal.

  • Needle and Syringe Programs help decrease the number of improperly discarded needles and syringes.

  • All members of the community can dispose of used injecting equipment at Needle and Syringe Programs.

  • Most injecting drug users dispose of needles and syringes safely.

The Australian Medical Association position statement on blood borne viral infections, 2004:

The Australian Medical Association supports Needle and Syringe Programs as one of a number of measures which prevent the spread of HIV and other blood borne diseases.