Australian Needle Exchange Programs Prevented 25,000 HIV Cases, 21,000 Hepatitis C Cases Over 10-Year Period, Report Says
Needle-exchange programs have prevented 25,000 cases of HIV and 21,000 cases of hepatitis C over the past 10 years in Australia, according to a study conducted by the Australian National Council on Drugs and the Australian National Council on AIDS, Hepatitis C and Related Diseases, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. The report also predicts that such programs will save 5,000 additional lives by 2010 (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10/23). Therefore, the report states, Australia's $83 million investment in needle-exchange programs from 1990 to 2000 resulted in an estimated "return" of between $1.3 billion and $4.2 billion during that same time period. Brian Watters, ANCD chair, said that the report "more than demonstrated" the "importance and value" of needle-exchange programs in Australia, adding, "It is hoped that this will further enhance the public's awareness of the purpose and value of [needle-exchange programs] and help in overcoming the misunderstanding that these programs somehow condone or encourage the injecting of illicit drugs." ANCD CEO Gino Vumbaca also discussed the importance of having such programs available in Australian prisons, where needle sharing is a "regular event." Watters also recommended the wider use of cost-benefit analyses in order to demonstrate the "real value and real returns" of needle exchanges and related programs (ANCD release, 10/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.