Drug Users Welcome Launch of Study Showing the Value of Needle and Syringe Program

Drug Users Welcome Launch of Study Showing the Value of Needle and Syringe Programs”

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League, (AIVL) the national peak organisation representing illicit drug users welcomes the launch today of the Commonwealth Government report, “Return on Investment in Needle and Syringe Programs in Australia”.

Research conducted by an independent consultancy group, Health Outcomes International, shows the enormous savings that have accrued to Government as a result of their investment in Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs) over the past ten years. Ms. Annie Madden, AIVL’s Executive Officer stated, “Between 1991 and 2000 the Government has saved more $370million due to their investment in NSPs and the associated prevention of tens of thousands of HIV and Hepatitis C cases”. Ms. Madden continued, “There are very few if any public health initiatives that could demonstrate such a clear and significant return on investment for the Government.”

Despite the success of NSPs in reducing the incidence of both HIV and Hepatitis C amongst injecting drug users, NSPs continue to come under attack at the community and political level. “Far from trying to shut NSPs down, we should, as a community be doing everything within our power to support the further expansion of these critical services” argued Ms. Madden.

AIVL is greatly concerned that despite these positive results, the majority of NSPs are not being resourced adequately to meet current demands and are increasingly coming under pressure to operate primarily as pathway services to drug treatment rather than HIV and Hepatitis C prevention services.

Ms. Madden concluded by saying, “NSPs work because they put HIV and Hepatitis C prevention first. The report shows the availability of sterile injecting equipment saves lives and that injecting drug users are responsible in protecting their health. We must strive to increase the availability of NSPs and remove the barriers to accessing NSPs for all injecting drug users, including those who are being forced to place their health at risk in Australia’s prisons. It is vital that we build on this report and the success to date of NSPs. With the correct response and a continuing commitment to harm reduction, not only will more dollars be saved but more lives will be saved. This must remain a priority for all Governments and the community.”