Do needle syringe programs reduce HIV infection among injecting drug users: a comprehensive review of the international evidence

Subst Use Misuse. 2006;41(6-7):777-813. doi: 10.1080/10826080600669579.


This first international review of the evidence that needle syringe programs reduce HIV infection among injecting drug users found that conservative interpretation of the published data fulfills six of the nine Bradford Hill criteria (strength of association, replication of findings, temporal sequence, biological plausibility, coherence of evidence, and reasoning by analogy) and all six additional criteria (cost-effectiveness, absence of negative consequences, feasibility of implementation, expansion and coverage, unanticipated benefits, and application to special populations). The Bradford Hill criteria are often used to evaluate public health interventions. The principal finding of this review was that there is compelling evidence of effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness, consistent with seven previous reviews conducted by or on behalf of U.S. government agencies. Authorities in countries affected or threatened by HIV infection among injecting drug users should carefully consider this convincing evidence now available for needle syringe programs with a view to establishing or expanding needle syringe programs to scale.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Harm Reduction
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / methods*
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Public Health
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / economics
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / prevention & control*