By Mirage News

The Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) and Hepatitis Australia are highlighting international calls for Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs) in prisons, along with a greater focus on harm reduction initiatives, ahead of International Drug Users Day on 1 November. The release of the Global State of Harm Reduction 2020 [i]report reinforces calls in Australia’s current National Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) and Sexually Transmissible Infections (STI) Strategies [ii]for the implementation of NSPs in custodial settings.

“This is the first time the Global State of Harm Reduction report has included a chapter on hepatitis C. This is crucial because globally an estimated 48.5% of all people who inject drugs are living with hepatitis C and more than half of the 585,000 drug-related deaths in 2017 were due to hepatitis C. Australia is reversing the trend of hepatitis C for people who inject drugs, incredibly the proportion of those living with chronic infection has declined from 51% in 2015 to 18% in 2019. The leadership from people who inject drugs is fundamental to this achievement. Australia’s hepatitis C success in this cohort is attributable to a range of factors including community education, unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral cures, evidence-based harm reduction strategies including community needle and syringe programs, and a coordinated approach guided by national strategies delivered in partnership with affected communities, peak bodies, clinicians, researchers and governments,” explained Carrie Fowlie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hepatitis Australia.