Political Support for Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs) in Australia: "Australia’s first NSP was trialled in New South Wales in 1986 with the provision of NSP services becoming New South Wales Government policy in early 1987 and the remaining states and territories implementing NSPs soon after via primary, secondary and pharmacy outlets (Dolan et al., 2005). This occurred following the discovery of HIV and the potential threat that this virus posed to the Australian community.
Cost Savings from Syringe Exchange in Australia:"In Australia the [Needle and Syringe] Program is the single most important and cost-effective strategy in reducing drug-related harms among IDUs. Australian Governments invested $130 million in NSPs between 1991 and 2000 resulting in the prevention of an estimated 25,000 HIV infections and 21,000 HCV infections, with savings from avoided treatment costs of up to $7.8 billion (Health Outcomes International et al., 2002). In the decade 2000-2009, the gross funding for NSPs was $243 million.
HIV, HCV, and Injection Drug Use in Australia: "In Australia it is estimated that about 13 per cent of people with HIV also have HCV. HIV shares major routes of transmission with both HCV and HBV. People who inject drugs are at particularly high risk for HCV and HIV co-infection.
Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Practices in Australian Drug Policy: "Commitment to evidence An important aspect of Australia’s approach to drug use has been the commitment to a comprehensive evidence base. Under the National Drug Strategy 2010–2015 there is a continued commitment to evidence-based and evidence-informed practice. Evidence-based practice means using approaches which have proven to be effective.
Syringe Exchange Activity in Australia: The number of needles and syringes distributed in Australia increased during the past decade (from ~27 million to ~31 million). Expenditure on NSPs increased by 36% (adjusted for inflation) over this time period, mostly associated with personnel and not principally for equipment (Table a); a significant portion of the increased investment has been the Illicit Diversion Supporting Measures for NSPs to increase referrals to drug treatment and other services.
Hepatitis C and Injection Drug Use in Australia "Approximately 83 per cent of HCV infections have resulted from unsafe injecting drug use practices. In Australia in 2006 it was estimated that approximately 264,000 people had been exposed to HCV and had HCV antibodies with around 197,000 living with chronic hepatitis C. The estimated number of new cases of HCV infection has declined from 16,000 per annum in 2001 to 10,000 in 2005. The majority (65 per cent) of people with HCV are aged between 20 and 39 years and 35 per cent of national notifications of HCV are in women.
Prevalence of Illegal Drug Use in Australia: "There was no change in recent use of most illicit drugs in 2013, and use of any illicit drug remained stable between 2010 and 2013. However, there was a significant change for a few specific drugs. The proportion of people who had misused a pharmaceutical rose from 4.2% in 2010 to 4.7% in 2013, whereas there were falls in the use of ecstasy (from 3.0% to 2.5%), heroin (from 0.2% to 0.1%) and gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
Social and Economic Costs of Drug Use in Australia: "Of the total social cost of drug abuse in 2004/05 of $55.2 billion, alcohol accounted for $15.3 billion (27.3 per cent of the unadjusted total), tobacco for $31.5 billion (56.2 per cent), and illicit drugs $8.2 billion (14.6 per cent). Alcohol and illicit drugs acting together accounted for another $1.1 billion (1.9 per cent)."