Availability and Utilization of Syringe Exchange in Austria
"The prevention of infections continues to play an important role in low-threshold centres and outreach work: in this context, the exchange and sale of syringes is of great relevance. In the majority of centres, the return rates for used syringes are very high (97%) (see Caritas Diözese Graz-Seckau 2014b). In addition to syringe exchange, it is possible to buy syringe sets at vending machines in five provinces. The sets also include accessories such as alcohol pads, as well as information on safer use (see Figure 7.1 and Figure 7.2, as well as Table A31).
"In addition to the established programmes for the exchange and sale of syringes that are run at the provincial level, in Austria it is also possible to buy syringes and needles at pharmacies.
"The number of syringes that have been returned or sold in the individual provinces has further risen. In 2013 a total of 4 762 999 syringes or needles were issued to drug users throughout Austria (2012: 4 625 121). Assuming that there are between 11 000 and 15 000 injecting drug users in Austria, an average of approximately 360 sterile syringes per year have been issued per injecting drug user in the context of syringe exchange. Austria thus continues to rank top in Europe and also meets the goal defined by the WHO to a great extent45 (see GÖG/ÖBIG 2013a). The number of permanent locations where syringes can be exchanged or bought has not changed. In Carinthia, one streetwork service is no longer available, whereas in Upper Austria an additional syringe vending machine was installed in the reporting period (see Table A31 and ST10).
"In 2013, Vienna recorded 210 021 contacts with clients in the context of syringe exchange. Even though this represents an increase as against the previous two years, it is lower than the figures for the period from 2007 to 2009 (245 000 to 279 000 contacts). The number of syringes that were exchanged in the reporting period has also gone up slightly (2012: 2 924 487; 2013: 2 940 457) (see SHW 2014a; Table A31). The streetwork service at Karlsplatz in Vienna only dispenses emergency syringe sets. In 2013, a daily average of 24 emergency sets were provided (2012: 54), and 13 sets were issued on an average day in the context of street social work (2012: 10) (SHW 2014a, SHW 2014c)."