Australian NSP Survey 25 Year National Data Report 1995–2019

Based on data from 57,000 respondents, this special 25-year report presents national and jurisdictional findings from the Australian NSP Survey (ANSPS) since its inception in 1995.

Conducted annually over a one-two week period in October, all clients attending participating NSPs are invited to complete a brief, anonymous questionnaire and to provide a capillary blood sample for HIV and HCV antibody and HCV RNA testing.

Findings highlight the benefits of investing in robust sentinel surveillance to monitor trends in drug use, sexual and injecting risk behaviour, treatment uptake and prevalence of blood-borne viral infections among PWID.

Key findings
  • The median age of respondents has increased over time with an incremental increase from 30 years in 2002 to 42 years in 2019 and a concomitant decline in the proportion aged less than 25 years from 25% in 2002 to 4% in 2019.
  • The proportion of respondents from an Indigenous Australian background increased over the 25-year period, from 5% in 1995 to 22% in 2019.
  • Prevalence of methamphetamine as the last drug injected increased over time, doubling between 2010 and 2019 and reported by almost half of all respondents in 2019.
  • The proportion of respondents who reported receptive sharing of needles and syringe in the past month declined over the 25-year survey period but increased over the past decade, with 16% reporting receptive syringe sharing in 2019.
  • Although HIV antibody prevalence remained low and consistently higher among respondents reporting male homosexual identity, prevalence increased over the 25-year period and was 2.3% in 2019.
  • HCV antibody prevalence declined over the 25-year period and there have now been three consecutive years (2017 to 2019) where less than half of ANSPS respondents tested HCV antibody positive.
  • Among respondents tested for HCV RNA, the proportion with detectable HCV RNA declined from 51% in 2015 to 18% in 2019 indicating that a population-level reduction in viraemic prevalence is achievable through high levels of treatment and cure among PWID.