The supply of needles and syringes became legal in Queensland in 1989. Prior to 1989, single syringes were sold commercially through pharmacies. The distribution of needles and syringes increased considerably during the late 1990s. Queensland has 859 needle and syringe programs, consisting of 18 primary outlets operated by Queensland Health (and located in Brisbane and Cairns), 84 secondary outlets, four enhanced secondary outlets, 745 pharmacies, and eight vending machines. All community pharmacies are legally able to provide needles and syringes and the vast majority do so by selling pre-packaged needles and syringes on a commercial basis.

  • Number of NSPs - 859 (including pharmacies)
  • Syringes distributed 1999-2008 - 62,752,480
  • Average syringes per year - 6,275,248
  • Total spending 2007/8 - $3,901,747
There are no accurate estimates of the number of IDUs in Queensland. However, based on indicators of IDU populations (Appendix B) the estimated number of IDUs and syringes distributed in Queensland has been increasing, and at a faster rate than any other jurisdiction (see Figure 39). The average frequency of injecting by IDUs in Queensland has decreased modestly but sharing rates have been slightly decreased. The prevalence of HCV among Queensland IDUs has increased markedly during the last decade and HIV cases have remained low.

In 2007/8, 7,069,405 sterile injection equipment units were provided in Queensland: 46% were through primary sites, 14% were distributed through secondary sites, 9% were provided through enhanced secondary sites, 21% were through pharmacies, and 9% through vending machines. 300,000 five packs were distributed through pharmacies. Pharmacists charge an average of $5 per five-pack out-of-pocket costs. The number of NSP sites in Queensland is listed in Table 23. Table 24 reports the spending by financial year in 2008 dollars, unadjusted and adjusted for the consumer price index (CPI).

Figure 39: Number of needles and syringes distributed in Queensland (1999-2008)

Text equivalent below for Figure 39: Number of needles and syringes distributed in Queensland (1999-2008)
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Text version of Figure 39

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

Number of syringes distributed in Queensland:
  • 1999 - 6,500,000
  • 2000 - 5,500,000
  • 2001 - 5,500,000
  • 2002 - 5,750,000
  • 2003 - 6,250,000
  • 2004 - 6,250,000
  • 2005 - 6,750,000
  • 2006 - 6,700,000
  • 2007 - 7,250,000
  • 2008 - 6,900,000

Table 23: Number of NSP sites in Queensland

Primary Secondary Enhanced secondaryVending machine sitesPharmacies
2007
18
84
4
8
745
2006
18
86
5
7
2005
14
81
5
4
2004
15
82
5
4
2003
12
81
5
2002
14
77
5
2001
13
69
5
2000
11
64
5

Table 24: Summary of expenditure on NSPs in Queensland (2000/1-2007/8)

2000/12001/22002/32003/42004/52005/62006/72007/8
Consumables - sterile injecting equipment ($'000)
889
893
1,023
1,130
1,225
1,104
1,256
1,246
Consumables - disposal equipment ($'000)
160
155
164
207
207
224
266
338
Consumables - safe sex packs ($'000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Consumables sub-total ($'000)
1,049
1,049
1,187
1,338
1,432
1,327
1,522
1,584
NSP support - primary NSP operations ($'000)
1,205
1,401
1,568
1,042
1,384
1,699
1,715
1,919
NSP support - support for secondary NSPs ($'000)
0
100
129
222
132
212
186
162
NSP support - transport ($'000)
16
15
23
27
33
94
113
98
NSP support - vending machines ($'000)
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
0
NSP support sub-total ($'000)
1,221
1,516
1,720
1,291
1,550
2,005
2,017
2,179
Total (unadjusted for CPI) ($'000)
2,270
2,564
2,907
2,628
2,982
3,332
3,539
3,763
Total in 2008 (adjusted for CPI) ($'000)
2,870
3,144
3,460
3,055
3,379
3,673
3,778
3,902
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