A balance sheet shows treatment for HIV is our most successful public health programme ever. The bottom line of some new data is that the New Zealand Needle Exchange Programme has doubled its return over the last 20 years, indicating less is spent now than it was in the early 2000s on treating HIV, also hepatitis B and C, and other injection-related injuries.
Thirty-four years ago, in 1988, New Zealand was the first country in the world to introduce a national, government-funded needle exchange programme - for people who inject legal and illegal drugs. Many of its clients are unable to use normal mainstream health services, either because they're using illegal drugs or because of real or perceived stigma. The programme aims to reduce harm to people who inject drugs - often savings their lives.
National Operations Manger Philippa Jones tells Kathryn Ryan it also aims to reduce the incidence of HIV and hepatitis in the community.