There is clear evidence that Needle Exchange Programs (NEPs) reduce the transmission of blood-borne infections (BBIs) among injection drug users.
- One of the most definitive studies of NEPs was carried out in 1997, focusing on 81 cities worldwide. It found that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection rates increased by 5.9 percent per year in the 52 cities without NEPs, and decreased by 5.8 percent per year in the 29 cities that did provide them. Report: Hurley S.F., et al (1997, 21st June), ‘Effectiveness of needle-exchange programs for prevention of HIV infection’, The Lancet; 349(9068).
- A study of HIV among Injection Drug Users (IDUs) in New York between 1990 and 2001, found that HIV prevalence fell from 54 percent to 13 percent following the introduction of NEPs. Report: Jarlais D., et al (2005, 19th October), ‘Reductions in hepatitis C virus and HIV infections among injecting drug users in New York City, 1990 – 2001’, AIDS 2005 19(3).
- The World Health Organization released a report in 2004 that reviewed the effectiveness of NEPs in many countries, and examined whether they promoted or prolonged illicit drug use. The results produced convincing evidence that NEPs significantly reduce HIV infection, and no evidence that they encourage drug use. Report: World Health Organization (2004), ‘Effectiveness of sterile needle and syringe programming in reducing HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users 'World Health Organization (2004), ‘Effectiveness of sterile needle and syringe programming in reducing HIV/AIDS among injecting drug users’.
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