Anex believes that Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs) should be extended to correctional facilities in Australia to assist in preventing blood borne virus transmissions.
Presently the ACT Government is considering establishing a trial of controlled needle and syringe exchange in its prison, the Alexander Maconochie Centre.
Below you can download a copy of the With Conviction paper and an advertisement which ran in the Canberra Times on World AIDS Day 2011.
In addition, the Inside Information paper discusses protocols that would enable an in-prison NSP to be established.
You can also find the full list of notable Australians who support a clinical trial of a prison NSP and add your name in support.
The principles enshrined in Australian national drug strategies aim to improve the health, social and economic outcomes for individuals and the community. The principles recognise that the Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) are a proven public health measure.
Significant proportions of prison populations inject illicit drugs. Needle sharing among prisoners is institutionalised, unnecessarily making prisons potential incubators of blood borne infections, including HIV and hepatitis C.
Prisoners return to their communities. The health risks posed by sharing injecting equipment in prisons are a broader public health issue.
Prison staff have the right to a safe working environment. The risk of contracting a blood borne virus through accidental needle stick injury would be reduced by a regulated prison-based NSP.
Harm minimisation includes three components: harm, supply and demand reduction. Currently, supply and demand reduction are institutionalised prison management practices; however, all Australian jurisdictions have, to date, failed to implement harm reduction measures in prisons.
Australian prison systems need to offer the three pillars of harm minimisation measures to be consistent with the Australian National Drugs Strategy.
Providing a regulated NSP to prisoners meets the State’s obligation to ensure prison facilities are safe and secure for staff. Accordingly, the provision of NSPs to prisoners is compatible with the standard of care required by the State in fulfilling its duty of care towards the workforce. It also provides prison staff with greater control of their work environment.
Prisoners are entitled to health services comparable to those available to the general community The scope of the State’s legally enforceable duty of care to prisoners must include providing prisoners with access to sterile injecting equipment to prevent the spread of blood borne viruses – as is done in all Australian communities.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are particularly vulnerable to infection with blood borne viruses due to the high rates of incarceration of their members.
A prison-based NSP trial, which has been endorsed by the Australian HIV, hepatitis C and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections strategies and which have been agreed to by all State and Territory Health Ministers, is urgently needed in Australia.
Prison-based NSPs should be integrated within the primary health care services, including health promotion, preventative care, and drug treatment, provided to prisoners.