Number of people attending safe needle and syringe programmes falls by 27 per cent

The number of people who regularly attended needle and syringe programmes (NSP) in Wales in order to access safe equipment to inject drugs, reduced by more than a quarter in 2021-22, compared to 2019-20.

The figures, revealed in Public Health Wales’ annual report of NSP activity, show a substantial change both in the numbers of individuals attending the service regularly, and also the profile of service users, following the lifting of restrictions during the pandemic.

Other findings from the report show that a quarter of people who inject psychoactive substances like heroin and crack cocaine say that they share needles and syringes with others, and a third share equipment such as spoons, filters and water.

The report also includes an estimate of coverage of the NSP service, which is the proportion of injecting ‘events’ where sterile injecting equipment is used, indicate a rate of 22 per cent.  This represents a clear risk for bacterial infections and transmission of blood borne viruses through reuse and sharing of injecting equipment among people who inject drugs.

In addition, the proportion of those people aged 50+ accessing NSP services has increased over the last five years across all substance groups – opioids, stimulants and IPEDS (image and performance enhancing drugs).

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