Australia: Needle Program a Success
October 7, 2009
St. Kilda's needle and syringe access program began operating 24 hours a day in late 2007. Since then, the Grey Street outreach remains the only one of its kind open every night in Victoria. Thanks to the additional hours, 1,000 more clients each month have access to sterile injection supplies, said Sue White, manager of health services for the Salvation Army's Crisis Service.
The clients of the service include taxi drivers, truck drivers, skilled manual laborers, sex workers, and steroid-using body builders, said White.
In an evaluation by Salvation Army and Monash University, the program's expansion contributed to a 51 percent increase in uptake of sterile needles and syringes between August 2007 and September 2008. The number of sharps returned for safe disposal grew 26 percent.
The service has helped clients avoid needle sharing and other practices known to spread infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. Needle-exchange users are also offered referrals for counseling, detoxification programs, and other health-related services.
Since the service went 24-hours, drug- and crime-related complaints to the local council have changed little, according to the evaluation. Based on this success, other syringe and needle programs should consider expanding their hours, White said.
The Age (Melbourne)
10.06.2009; Julia Medew
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.