A recent study by the New Zealand Needle Exchange has revealed the HIV prevalence rate amongst injecting drug users in New Zealand to have fallen to just 0.2 percent; the lowest ever recorded in New Zealand and likely the lowest anywhere in the world.

“This is good news, not just for injecting drug users, but for the whole of society,” says NZ Needle Exchange Director Charles Henderson, speaking from the AIDS 2014 Conference, which kicked off this week in Melbourne.

“There may be six degrees of separation between any two people on the planet, but there’s only one degree of separation between you and the injecting drug user in your community. They may be a marginalised population but the fact that HIV has largely been prevented from spreading amongst injecting drug users has significant heath, economic and social benefits for all New Zealanders.”

Mr Henderson said the results show there needs to be more recognition, including from Government, about the vital role of the Needle Exchange Programme and its importance in reducing the overall harms of blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C among New Zealand communities.

“The progressive and early introduction of the needle exchange programme in New Zealand has meant the virus has been prevented from entering the injecting population, which has reduced its potential to spread more widely.

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