Needle-exchange programme

From ArticleWorld

The needle-exchange programme is a social policy which allows people to obtain low-cost syringes and hypodermic needles. This is done to encourage the usage of clean syringes, as people can exchange used needles and syringes for clean, new syringes. This is why such programmes are often called needle and syringe programmes. Education related to drug abuse and blood-born disease is often provided, as the needle-exchange programmes are often parts of larger programmes themselves. Although much criticism and debate exist, needle-exchange programmes are active in many countries, with remarkable results.

Target audience

The programme targets drug users who inject their doses. The needle-exchange programme aims to prevent the transmission of blood-born diseases among these people. In many countries, the sharing of syringe needles is a major cause of HIV, hepatitis C and other similarly transmittable diseases.

These programmers have social benefits, as they reduce the costs associated with treating people who become infected by sharing syringe needles, and provide a safe way to dispose used needles and syringes. They are active in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. In the United States, they do not receive federal funding. Similar programs are in course of implementation in other countries.


The needle-exchange programmes are subject to many controversies. The main criticism is that it does nothing to discourage drug use. Even more, it actually encourages it, since drug users can easily obtain syringes. Many consider that such programmes don't really encourage drug users to quit drugs. Needle-exchange programme partisans consider that this is a misjudging, as the first aim of the programme is to prevent the transmission of blood-born diseases.

Researchers done by the European Union indicate that even these critics lack any real grounds. Needle-exchange programmes have been proven to be very effective in their purpose, and results show that they do not encourage drug use.