Needle and syringe programmes

NICE guidelines [PH52] Published date:

This guidance updates and replaces NICE public health guideline 18 (published February 2009).

This guidance makes recommendations on needle and syringe programmes, including those provided by pharmacies and drugs services for adults and young people (including those under 16) who inject drugs, including image- and performance-enhancing drugs.

The main aim of needle and syringe programmes is to reduce the transmission of blood-borne viruses and other infections caused by sharing injecting equipment, such as HIV, hepatitis B and C. In turn, this will reduce the prevalence of blood-borne viruses and bacterial infections, so benefiting wider society. Many needle and syringe programmes also aim to reduce the other harms caused by drug use and include:

  • Advice on minimising the harms caused by drugs.
  • Help to stop using drugs by providing access to drug treatment (for example, opioid substitution therapy).
  • Access to other health and welfare services.

The guidance is for directors of public health, commissioners, providers of needle and syringe programmes and related services, and those with a remit for infectious disease prevention. In addition, it may be of interest to members of the public.

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