Three new needle vending machines will be installed across the region in the coming months to provide safe access to injecting equipment.
The vending machines form part of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District’s Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) and provide the community with access to injecting equipment and safe disposal to help reduce the spread of blood borne viruses including HIV and Hepatitis C.
A Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District spokesman said NSW Health is committed to reducing the sharing of injecting equipment by 25 per cent by 2020 and to achieving elimination of Hepatitis C by 2028.
He confirmed site investigations had begun after the matter was raised at the Penrith Community Safety Partnership Meeting on December 4.
“Investigations are underway to identify locations to install three new NSP vending machines across the district,” he said.
“This will be done in line with the NSW Needle and Syringe Program Guidelines 2017, in consultation with Police, Council and Health staff.”
There are currently eight NSP vending machines attached to health facilities in the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, three of which are located within the Penrith LGA.
These locations include Nepean Hospital and Penrith Community Health Centres.
He said the Needle and Syringe Program operates within the principles of harm minimisation and provides a range of clinical services.
These include HIV, Hepatitis B and C testing and treating of Hepatitis C, referrals, health education, clean injecting equipment for people who inject drugs, and broader community education and safety initiatives.
The State Government has committed $231.6 million to delivering alcohol and other drug prevention, education, treatment and ongoing care programs state-wide in 2019-2020.
Alena Higgins is the Weekender’s Senior News Reporter, primarily covering courts and Council issues.