A recent study led by the University of Bristol & the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine with the support of Rachel Ayres from BDP has shown that providing clean injecting equipment is a highly cost effective way of preventing the transmission of hepatitis C.

The research estimated the cost effectiveness of three existing needle and syringe programs like our needle exchange in cites with varying levels of hepatitis C infection amongst the injecting population – Bristol, Dundee and Walsall.

Using several mathematical models the researchers estimated what might happen if all the programs stopped for the first 10 years of a 50 year period and found that the cost savings for Bristol alone would be £159,712. In

The study also showed that needle and syringe programs would continue to be cost effective even if hepatitis C treatment rates increased or the treatment costs reduced due to the ability of these programs to prevent re-infection.

Talking about the research the co-lead author of the study, Dr Zoe Ward from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions based at the University of Bristol said:

We have evaluated the impact and cost-effectiveness of needle and syringe programmes in the UK for the first time. The results are clear. Needle and syringe programmes not only reduce the number of new HCV infections among people who inject drugs and improve their quality of life, they are also low-cost, excellent value for money and, in some areas, save money, which is good news for our cash-strapped local authorities. We hope that Public Health England and local government commissioners and policy makers will take note and continue to commission needle and syringe programmes, which are currently under threat of funding cuts.

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