Earlier this week, nearly 10,000 pieces of used injecting equipment were received for safe disposal, at our Fremantle mobile site providing Needle and Syringe Exchange Program (NSEP) services. This is the largest ever received at this location. Our service offers sterile injecting equipment for free, in exchange for used drug injecting equipment, in order to keep the community safe from needle stick injury, and to reduce the risk of blood borne viruses. Sharing a used needle or other injecting equipment is one of the most effective methods of transmitting blood borne viruses, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, and we are thrilled to be distributing such a huge amount of sterile equipment to those who need it.
Needle and Syringe Programs across Australia have prevented thousands of new infections among people who inject drugs and have in turn increased community safety. Statistics reported between 2000 - 2009 show that 32,050 new HIV infections and 96,667 new Hepatitis C infections were averted thanks to Needle and Syringe Programs. For every $1 spent on the program, $27 of taxpayer money is saved, and $36 are saved if you take into account DALYs (disability life adjusted years) which can be described as the years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability.
by Samuel Gibbings, Needle and Syringe Exchange Project Officer
The WA AIDS Council has operated a Needle and Syringe Exchange Program (NSEP) since 1987. The purpose of the service is to reduce harms associated with injecting drug use through the provision of sterile injecting equipment, education and referrals.
The service continues to see an increase in the number of client contacts and equipment distributed. In the 2015-16 period there was an increase of 30.7 per cent (11,297) in client interactions and an increase of 29.2 per cent in equipment distributed (1,724,965).
In order the ensure the service is performing at its best by WA AIDS Council staff a survey was undertaken earlier this year. Results showed that all staff have a good understanding of the core principles of the NSEP: being non-judgemental; understanding the risks involved with injecting drug use; and the available referral pathways to treatment.
In addition, the annual NSEP Client Satisfaction Survey conducted in March this year reflected positively on the delivery of the NSEP service by WA AIDS Council staff. The survey provided clients with an opportunity to give anonymous feedback on the service. Conducted over two weeks, 187 participants were recruited with an acceptance rate of 73.4 per cent.
The survey results showed high levels of satisfaction, with no dissatisfaction. Over:
• 95 per cent agreed that staff and volunteers are friendly and approachable
• 91 per cent agreed that staff and volunteers are knowledgeable
• 93 per cent agreed that staff were efficient
Further comments demonstrate the amount of trust and respect towards NSEP staff and volunteers including:
• “I find the staff totally approachable, efficient and friendly”
• “The particular WAAC Van that comes weekly to Joondalup on Tuesday. The staff was so helpful, but more so the help & advice given to me by Sam who I’ve got to know and like over the last two years or more.”
• “Very happy with this service! 100 per cent”
• “Great service. Non-judgemental.”
• “Always most helpful, non-judgemental nice people operate this service.”
The survey also included a question asking participants what their last drug injected was. This is useful to monitor any changing trends, and as seen in the chart below, methamphetamine was the most common last injected drug at 50 per cent, followed by heroin at 20 per cent.
These results are also similarly reflected in the Australian Needle and Syringe Program Survey, which indicated heroin use at 20 per cent and methamphetamine use at 54 per cent for clients accessing NSEPs in Western Australia. Past survey results showed heroin and methamphetamine use at similar levels (around 30 per cent each). Heroin use may have declined in favour of other opiates, opiate replacement therapies, and possibly, although unlikely, methamphetamines. Alternatively, heroin use remains at similar levels, but a disproportionate number of new clients accessing the service identify as methamphetamine users.
Regardless, the increase in the number of people using methamphetamines accessing the service has allowed the WA AIDS Council to respond by increasing the availability of amphetamine based resources at both its fixed sites and the van.
Future surveys will continue to monitor the ever trends and allow us to deliver a service that clients want.
PLEASE NOTE: The Fremantle Fixed Location is now OPEN, located in Block A at the Fremantle Hospital, entrance from South Terrace. The site is open from 12:00pm - 3:00pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The new Fremantle phone number is 9431 3318.
The WA AIDS Council (WAAC) Needle and Syringe Exchange Program provides services to people who inject drugs across Perth. The Needle Exchange service operates from a mobile needle van in the suburbs of: Armadale, Fremantle, Forrestfield, Gosnells, Joondalup, Midland, Mirrabooka and Rockingham. There is also a fixed Needle Exchange site at the WA AIDS Council (WAAC) in West Perth. Services include the provision of needle & syringe units, barrels and tips free on exchange, or at low cost, as well as the safe disposal of used injecting equipment. We also provide safer sex equipment, user-friendly advice, information and referral services.
Sharing a used needle or other injecting equipment is, unfortunately, one of the most effective methods of transmitting blood borne viruses. Australian Needle and Syringe Programs have prevented thousands of cases of infection among people who inject drugs and, in turn, have protected the rest of the community.
In 2009, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging published the Return on Investment in Needle and Syringe Programs in Australia study and found that an investment of $12.9m in the funding of NSPs in Western Australia from years 2000-2009 has resulted in a saving of $124m in healthcare costs, with more than 19,000 Disability Adjusted Life Years saved with a net financial saving of $111m.
The lifetime net present value of investment in NSPs that took account of all healthcare costs and savings (but not costs associated with productivity losses) would be $5.63bn ($1.97bn discounted at 3%).
Please see the timetable below for the times and whereabouts of the WAAC Needle Van.
Please see below for the items available for exchange or purchase from the mobile needle van or the fixed needle exchange sites.
|ITEMS AVAILABLE & PRICE LIST|
(Ultrafine 29g, Terumo 29g, 27g)
|Free on exchange OR
25c each OR
$25 for box of 100
|Sterile Water (10ml)||60c|
|0.5ml Needles (Ultrafine 30g)||Free on exchange OR 25c||Tourniquets
- Single coloured
|Injecting Needles / Drawing Up Tips
(18g, 19g, 21g, 22g, 23g, 25g, 26g, 27g)
|Free on exchange OR 10c||Hirudoid (anti bruising cream)||$4.50|
- Syringes 3ml, 5ml, 10ml
- Syringes 20ml, 50ml
Free on exchange OR 25c
Free on exchange OR 50c
(0.2 micron, 0.8 micron)
|Infusions / Butterflies||25c on exchange OR 50c||Sterifits||30c|
|Cotton Wool Ball (5pc)||Free||Swabs
- Extra: 2 Swabs
- Extra: 1 Box
|FREE with your order
|Safe Disposal Buckets & Tubes||Free||Spoons||20c|