Needle program leads to sharp drop in health bill


More than 30 million needles are handed out through exchange programs across Australia in a year, and yet half of all injections are still done in a non-sterile way. The programs, which aim to cut rates of transmissible disease among intravenous drug users, cost a total $243 million to run over the past decade, a new report shows. The research, by the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, also found the reduced incidence of needle sharing during the 10 years prevented 32,000 new HIV infections and almost 100,000 new cases of hepatitis C. This reduction in disease accounted for a saving in downstream taxpayer-funded health outlays of almost $1.3 billion.