Needle and syringe programs: your questions answered

Wouldn't it be better to stop people using drugs, rather than give them needles and syringes?

Page last updated: 2005

Despite education about the harms associated with drug use and information on drug treatment programs many people will continue to inject drugs. One of the major risks associated with injecting drugs is HIV and hepatitis C infection. Needle and Syringe Programs are one of the main strategies we have to prevent the spread of HIV infection among people who inject drugs. The aim of Needle and Syringe programs is to reduce the harms associated with drug injecting and benefit both drug users and the wider community.

Needle and Syringe Programs also provide counselling services and actively encourage clients into drug treatment programs.

  • Many people will continue to inject drugs despite education about the harms of drug use and information on treatment.

  • Needle and Syringe Programs reduce many of the harms associated with injecting drug use by providing sterile injecting equipment.

  • Needle and Syringe Programs refer drug users to treatment programs.

Garth Popple, We Help Ourselves, Therapeutic Communities:

Unlike many other parts of the world Australia has been very proactive in controlling the spread of HIV and other blood borne viruses amongst injecting drug users. About 1% of injecting drug users in Australia has HIV. This success can be attributed to the implementation of the Needle and Syringe Program which has been hailed as the foundation of Harm Minimisation and helped control HIV. We Help Ourselves continues to support Needle and Syringe Program initiatives.