Australian NSP Survey National Data Report 1995 – 2010

The Australian Needle and Syringe Program Survey (ANSPS) is a cross-sectional study that has been conducted over a one to two week period each year since 1995. The survey forms the basis of Australia’s human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C surveillance among injecting drug users, and monitors behavioural indices of risk in addition to prevalence of infection.

All clients attending selected NSP sites during the specified survey period are asked to complete a brief self administered questionnaire and to provide a capillary blood sample for HIV and hepatitis C antibody testing. Demographic and behavioural data captured includes injecting ,and sexual behaviour, blood borne virus testing, drug treatment and needle and syringe acquisition.

A National Data Report, summarising national and state/territory data is produced by the Kirby Institute on an annual basis.

Key findings
  • The median age of participants was relatively stable at between 27 and 29 years during the first half of the survey period, but increased in subsequent years. Median age increased from a low of 27 years in 1997 to 37 years in 2010, with a concurrent decline in the proportion of respondents aged younger than 25 years, from 36% in 1997 to 8% in 2010.
  • HIV antibody prevalence remained low at 2.1% or less in all of the past sixteen years, with prevalence of 1.0% observed in 2010.
  • HIV prevalence was highest among participants reporting male homosexual identity, who comprised between 2% and 5% of annual survey samples, with prevalence in this group ranging from 14% to 39%.
  • While there were shifts in the patterns of drugs injected as reported by ANSPS participants over the past 16 years, reports of heroin and methamphetamine as the drugs last injected remained prominent in all survey years.
  • The proportion of participants who reported last injecting pharmaceutical opioids remained stable at 3% to 4% during the 1990s. However, prevalence has increased recently, with 16% of participants in 2010 reporting last injecting this class of drug.