NEEDLE exchange programs have saved Diamond Valley residents almost $1.4 million in health care costs over the past decade, new research shows.
A report by the Association for Prevention and Harm Reduction Programs Australia shows sterile syringe distribution prevented at least 5500 HIV infections throughout Victoria.
Anex spokesman John Ryan said sterile syringe programs returned $4 for every $1 invested by preventing blood-transmitted viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C, saving Banyule residents $1,196,781 and $202,768 in Nillumbik.
“Nationally, more than 32,000 HIV and almost 100,000 hepatitis C infections have been prevented by providing sterile syringes and counselling to injectors in the past nine years,” Mr Ryan said.
Victoria has 194 needle and syringe exchange sites. Both Banyule and Nillumbik Community Health services run a program.
The report by the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Return on Investment 2: Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of needle and syringe programs in Australia, found free distribution of injecting equipment in high-risk communities has prevented more than 32,000 new cases of HIV infections and around 100,000 new hepatitis C infections since 2000.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations executive director Don Baxter said the report shows giving injecting drug users access to needle and syringe programs has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on slowing down HIV and hepatitis C infection rates. Read more »