Needles and Syringes Programme

Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP)
The transmission of HIV among injecting drug users and related populations of sex workers, youth, and other vulnerable people is greatly adding to the burden of disease in countries worldwide. Evidence from 20 years of research shows that needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) prevent, control, and ultimately reduce prevalence of HIV and other blood-borne infections among injecting drug users.

Needle and syringe programmes vary widely in terms of their location (within or near targeted communities of injecting drug users), hours, distribution policies, their clientele, and the drugs used by this group.

No matter how developed an NSP is, no matter how well-trained its staff is, and no matter how abundant its inventory of sterile injecting equipment is, if there aren’t large numbers of injecting drug users accessing its services, it will have no impact on an HIV epidemic. Therefore, the choice of locations (fixed sites, home bases or central offices) is crucial.

There are three basic modes of delivering the services of needle and syringe programmes:
1. Fixed site: a place to which injection drug users can come to collect and dispose of injecting equipment and make use of other services
2. Mobile services: a van or bus, usually with a regular route and regular hours of stopping in several locations, provides services to drug users
3. Outreach/backpack: workers travel through streets or other areas (such as apartments), distributing clean needles and syringes and collecting used injecting equipment for safe disposal
Many of the most effective NSPs provide a range of delivery modes, including syringe-vending machines and pharmacies.

Source: WHO