Needle and Syringe Programs have been operating in the Northern Territory since 1989, when the Northern Territory AIDS Council and the AIDS Council of Central Australia were established. Distribution through pharmacies commenced in Darwin in 1991. The majority of needles and syringes disseminated through NSPs in the Northern Territory are through primary outlets in Darwin and Alice Springs. Pharmacies sell 'fit kits' on a commercial basis. In the Northern Territory there are three primary outlets and 23 secondary outlets as well as pharmacies that distribute needles and syringes.

  • Number of NSPs - 26 (plus pharmacies)
  • Syringes distributed 1999-2008 - 3,822,862
  • Average syringes per year - 382,286
  • Total spending 2007/8 - $580,637
The number of IDUs in the Northern Territory is relatively small compared to other jurisdictions and has remained steady over the last decade. The number of needles and syringes distributed through NSPs in the Northern Territory has remained stable (Figure 34). The average frequency of injecting by IDUs in the Northern Territory has slightly decreased and sharing rates have also decreased (in contrast to most other jurisdictions). The prevalence of HCV has remained relatively steady and HIV cases are rare among IDUs in the Northern Territory.

In 2007/8, 378,856 sterile injection equipment units were provided in the Northern Territory: 10% were provided through secondary sites, including four hospital emergency departments, and 5-8% were distributed through pharmacies. Pharmacies charge an average of $5-$8 per five-pack out-of-pocket costs. The number of NSP sites in the Northern Territory is listed in Table 20. Table 21 reports the spending by financial year in 2008 dollars, unadjusted and adjusted for the consumer price index (CPI). Figures were not available before 2003/4 so the amounts prior to this assume similar levels of spending on primary services. Please note that all funding for sterile injecting equipment includes disposal equipment. Funding for the two are not separated in funds given to NSPs.

Figure 34: Number of needles and syringes distributed in the Northern Territory (1999-2008)

Text equivalent below for Figure 34: Number of needles and syringes distributed in the Northern Territory (1999-2008)Top of page

Text version of Figure 34

Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Number of syringes distributed in the Northern Territory:
  • 2000 - 430,000
  • 2001 - 445,000
  • 2002 - 445,000
  • 2003 - 450,000
  • 2004 - 390,000
  • 2005 - 410,000
  • 2006 - 410,000
  • 2007 - 380,000
  • 2008 - 380,000

Table 20: Number of NSP sites in the Northern Territory

Primary Secondary
2007
3
23
2006
3
23
2005
3
22
2004
3
21
2003
2
21
2002
2
21
2001
2
21
2000
2
21

Table 21: Summary of expenditure on NSPs in the Northern Territory (2000/1-2007/8)

2000/12001/22002/32003/42004/52005/62006/72007/8
Consumables - sterile injecting equipment ('000)
61
56
62
74
74
74
74
110
Consumables - disposal equipment ('000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Consumables - safe sex packs ('000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Consumables sub-total ('000)
61
56
62
74
74
74
74
110
NSP support - primary NSP operations ('000)
277
330
328
357
399
514
432
450
NSP support - support for secondary NSPs ('000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NSP support - transport ('000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NSP support - vending machines ('000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
NSP support sub-total ('000)
277
323
328
357
399
514
432
450
Total (unadjusted for CPI) ('000)
334
386
390
431
473
588
506
560
Total (adjusted for CPI) ('000)
383
437
442
489
536
648
540
581