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Doctors support needle vending machines
6 February 2014
AMA Victoria supports the introduction of syringe vending machines, as access to clean needles is a key part of the public health policy in reducing blood borne viruses.
“We do not condone illicit drug use, but sadly it is a part of many people’s lives and affects their families, friends and the wider community”, AMA Victoria President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said.
“People do not want to be around drug use, but denial is not going to stop the spread of HIV or hepatitis C. Given that there is drug use, we need to work with drug users to reduce harm and ideally stop them using all together. An essential practice is access to sterile needles”, Dr Parnis said.
“Access to sterile needles does not result in an increase in the number of people using heroin, rather it enables users to reduce the chance of contracting dangerous viruses and bacterial illnesses”, Dr Parnis said.
“Syringe vending machines have been found to be an effective strategy in minimising the harms of drug use, and they should be used in Victoria”, Dr Parnis said.
“It is easy to incite fear in people when it comes to harm reduction and illicit drug use. We need to maintain an empathetic, evidence-based approach to this public health problem”, Dr Parnis said.
Syringe vending machines have been introduced in New South Wales, the ACT, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania:
Evidence from syringe vending machine trials in these states found that these machines do not increase the number of dangerously discarded needles.
The ACT trial found that there was no increase in heroin overdoses or the number of ambulance call-outs during the trial period.
Both Australian and international research indicates that needle and syringe programs make a significant contribution in preventing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.
Between 2000 and 2009, the Australian Government invested $243 million in needle and syringe programs.
This resulted in the prevention of an estimated 32,050 new HIV infections and 96,667 cases of hepatitis C. $1.28 billion dollars were saved in direct healthcare costs.
Media & Public Affairs Officer
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753
Mobile: 0437 450 506