This guideline covers needle and syringe programmes for people (including those under 16) who inject drugs. The main aim is to reduce the transmission of 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.

Recommendations

This guideline includes recommendations to:

Who is it for?

  • Directors of public health
  • Commissioners and providers of needle and syringe programmes and related services
  • Professionals with a remit for infectious disease prevention
  • Members of the public

Is this guideline up to date?

Next review: 2017

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline replaces PH18 (2009). It has been extended to include young people aged under 18 (including those under 16) and users of image- and performance-enhancing drugs.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

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