Are there differences in individual-level needle and syringe coverage across Australian jurisdictions related to program policy? A preliminary analysis

Penelope Hill, Daniel O'Keefe, Paul M. Dietze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims: Services provided by needle and syringe programs (NSP) within Australia are easily accessible by international standards. However, important variation in NSP policy remains across Australian jurisdictions. The potential impacts of these variations on program operation for clients have not been systematically analysed in Australia. In this paper we conduct a preliminary examination to compare individual-level syringe coverage between and within Australian capital cities. Design and Methods: Participants were 2498 people who inject drugs (PWID) recruited from all Australian capital cities as part of the annual Illicit Drug Reporting System PWID survey over the period 2014–2016. Insufficient coverage was defined when <100% of a participant's injecting episodes were ‘covered’ by sterile needles and syringes. We report the percentage of insufficient coverage for each capital city for each year, and present descriptive statistics for coverage parameters, and an alternative measure for insufficient coverage, as Supporting Information. Results: Differences in behaviours that have the potential to impact syringe coverage were highly variable over time and place leading to variations in levels of insufficient coverage between and within all cities. Overall, insufficient coverage was most evident in larger cities where insufficient coverage varied between 19% and 23% (Sydney) over time, compared to smaller cities with variation from 9% to 12% (Adelaide). Discussion and Conclusions: We found no consistent pattern of differences in individual-level needle and syringe coverage between and within Australian capital cities. Further work is needed to fully evaluate whether policy variation between Australian jurisdictions impacts on NSP coverage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)653-657
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • injecting drug use
  • needle and syringe program
  • program coverage

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