Availability of Syringe Exchange in the EU

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"Drug users, and particularly injecting drug users, are at risk of contracting infectious diseases through the sharing of drug use material and through unprotected sex. Preventing the transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis and other infections is therefore an important objective for European drug policies. For injecting opioid users, it is now well demonstrated that substitution treatment reduces reported risk behaviour, with some studies suggesting that the protective effect increases when combined with needle and syringe programmes.
"The number of syringes distributed through specialised programmes has increased in Europe (26 countries), rising from 42.9 million syringes in 2007 to 46.0 million in 2012. At country level, a divergent picture is evident, with around half of countries reporting an increase in provision and half a decrease (Figure 3.3). Increases can be explained by the expansion of provision, sometimes from a low base. Decreases may be explained by either a fall in service availability or a drop in client numbers. Among the 12 countries with recent estimates of numbers of injectors, the average number of syringes distributed per injecting drug user through specialised programmes in 2012 ranged from zero in Cyprus to more than 300 in Spain and Norway (Figure 3.4)."


European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, "European Drug Report 2014: Trends and Developments" (Lisbon, Portugal: EMCDDA, 2014), p. 55.

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