Injecting drug use causes one out of ten new HIV infections; in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, it causes over 80 percent of all HIV infections. Needle and syringe programs are one of our main methods for preventing the spread of HIV among people who inject drugs.
In 2013, we distributed more than 1.6 million needles and syringes, averting 15,327 DALYs.
We began implementing evidence-based harm reduction activities, including needle and syringe programs (NSPs), in 1996. We now operate NSPs in Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. We deliver NSPs as part of a spectrum of services aimed at improving the health and well-being of people who inject drugs (PWID).
Our comprehensive harm reduction programs work to reduce the risk that PWID face of Hepatitis C and HIV infection, facilitate access to drug treatment and substitution therapy for those ready to stop using drugs, and increase access to HIV care and treatment, as well as tuberculosis services.
Making a Difference
PSI/Vietnam developed the world’s first social marketing campaign for low dead-space syringes, which are syringes that retain nearly 100 times less blood than traditional syringes, reducing the chance of HIV and Hepatitis C transmission. Read more about it on PSI’s blog: Stemming HIV Among the Most at Risk.
In some countries, traditional needle and syringe programs have limited reach. Many exchanges are open only during traditional business hours and are linked to the same government health centers that PWID fear accessing due to discrimination. In some cities, the sheer quantity of needle and syringe distribution is too small to meet the demand from PWID. In Central Asia, Myanmar and Thailand, PSI has worked to address these barriers by partnering with private pharmacies to distribute sterile injecting equipment. In this model, peer outreach workers provide PWID with vouchers for free needles and syringes at participating pharmacies. When presented to a pharmacist, PWID are given free sterile equipment subsidized by PSI. This model has helped to substantially improve PWID’s access to the equipment necessary to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections.