multicoloured health related words on black background Credit: Sue Heard, Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney

NSW Needle Syringe Enhanced Data Collection (NNEDC)

The challenge

The NSW Needle Syringe Program (NSP) is a public health initiative that aims to reduce the transmission of blood borne viruses and other harms related to injection drug use through the provision of sterile injecting equipment and related equipment for people who inject drugs (PWID). The NSP operates within the principles of harm minimisation embedded in the NSW HIV and Hepatitis C Strategies. The NSW public sector program is delivered through a mix of primary and secondary NSP outlets, augmented by mobile and outreach services and syringe dispensing machines and chutes.

The project

The NSW NSP Enhanced Data Collection (NNEDC) was established as a mechanism to provide an annual snapshot of the NSW NSP client population. First conducted in 2004, the NNEDC was subsequently repeated in 2008 and in a revised format annually in all years since 2013.

The method

The NNEDC is conducted over a two-week period in late February/early March at approximately 50 NSPs throughout NSW (all primary and some secondary NSP services). Approximately 2,700 NSP attendees participate in the NNEDC each year, and participation involves the completion of a brief A4 self-administered data collection instrument that covers demographic characteristics, drug use behaviours, and service utilisation.

The results

Over the ten-year period that the NNEDC has been conducted in its current format (2013 to 2022), significant increases were observed in the proportion of NSP attendees who reported last injecting methamphetamine or injecting daily or more frequently in the month prior to data collection. Conversely, significant declines were observed in the proportion of NSP attendees who were young people (aged less than 25 years of age), who reported last injecting an opioid, initiating injecting within the previous 3 years, and receptive syringe sharing in the month prior to data collection.

The impact

Results from the NNEDC highlight the benefits of timely data on trends in demographic characteristics, drug use behaviours, and uptake of services by people who inject drugs in NSW. Results from the NNEDC inform NSW NSP policy and service planning and contribute to the NSW Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C Strategies 2014-2020 Annual Data Report.

Project funding

BBV & STI Research, Intervention and Strategic Evaluation Program (BRISE)