21 Nov 2009

Needle exchange programme in prisons urged

8:09 am on 21 November 2009

Operators of the national needle exchange programme are calling for it to be expanded into New Zealand's prisons.

About 200 needle exchange clinics operate around the country, distributing 3 million clean needles this year alone. The programme has been running for 21 years.

New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of HIV amongst intravenous drug users in the world and there has been a significant drop in the rates of Hepatitis B and C amongst injecting users in the past five years.

National manager Charles Henderson says the figures are testament to its success but he would like to see the programme operating in prisons and better coordination with primary healthcare providers.