Evidence on effectiveness of needle and syringe programmes

Scientific research into the effectiveness of NSPs in reducing HIV/AIDS among IDUs dates back to the 1980s (141). A review of the literature, published by WHO in 2004, concludes that there is compelling evidence that increasing the availability and utilisation of sterile injecting equipment by IDUs reduces HIV infection substantially and that there is no evidence of any major unintended negative consequences (WHO, 2004). However, the review concluded that, by themselves, NSPs are not enough to control HIV infection among IDUs, and that these programmes must be supported by a range of complementary measures in order to control HIV infection among and from IDUs. Reviewing the cost-effectiveness of NSPs, de Wit and Bos (2004) conclude that NSPs seem to be cost-effective in preventing the spread of HIV and have additional and worthwhile benefits apart from reducing HIV, such as bringing a difficult-to-reach population of drug users into contact with health and social services.

(141) See the EMCDDA website for a list of key reviews.