Australian NSP Survey National Data Report 2017 – 2021

The Australian Needle Syringe Program Survey (ANSPS) provides serial point prevalence estimates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) (antibody and RNA) and sexual and injecting risk behaviour among people who inject drugs (PWID) in Australia.

Conducted annually over a one-two week period, 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. Implementation of the 2020 and 2021 ANSPS was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a reduced number of services and respondents participating compared to previous years.

This report presents national and state/territory data for the period 2017 to 2021.

Key findings
  • In 2021, 37 Australian Needle Syringe Programs (NSPs) participated in the ANSPS and 1,474 NSP attendees completed the survey. The response rate was 45%.
  • As a sentinel surveillance system with the capacity to respond to emerging issues, the 2020 and 2021 ANSPS surveys included a module about COVID-19 related impacts, including vaccination uptake. While all respondents were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination at the time of survey completion in 2021, less than half reported receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • HIV antibody prevalence remained low and stable nationally, ranging from 1.5% to 2.5% over the period 2017 to 2021.
  • HCV antibody prevalence declined from 49% in 2017 to 36% in 2021, while the proportion of respondents with detectable HCV RNA declined from 26% in 2017 to 16% in 2021.
  • Among respondents assessed as eligible for HCV treatment, the proportion who reported a lifetime history of HCV treatment increased, from 45% in 2017 to 62% in 2021.