Opinions, policies and referral statements
Syringe exchange policy
Since the end of the 1980s, Noaks Ark has advocated for syringe exchange as a method for reducing the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Noaks Ark maintains that syringe exchange is not a drug policy measure, but a health policy effort for a particularly vulnerable group at risk. We want to emphasize everyone’s right to equal health and assert the right to health care for drug addicts that is adapted to their needs and living conditions.
Referrals and opinions
The National Confederation Noaks Ark and previously the Noaks Ark Red Cross Foundation have on several occasions been the organization for referrals for investigations and proposals in the field of HIV.
The National Confederation Noaks Ark’s advisory opinion on – A more unified authority structure in the area of public health (Ds 2012:49)
The National Confederation Noaks Ark’s consultation on – National action plan against HIV and other STIs among gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men.
Noaks Ark Positions and Policies
Syringe exchange is an activity where used syringes and needles are exchanged for sterile unused ones with the intention of preventing the spread of HIV infection and other blood-borne infections among people who use drugs.
The intense debate about syringe exchange has been going on in Sweden for almost 25 years. During this time, too many injection drug users have been infected with hepatitis and HIV. Since 2006, the county councils have had the opportunity to independently make decisions about syringe exchange, and today such activities are carried out in Malmö, Lund, Helsingborg, Kalmar, and Stockholm.
In the Region of Skåne, where the activity of syringe exchange has been conducted for many years, only a few cases of HIV have been discovered since 2000 and there is hardly any domestic spread of HIV in the group of injection drug users. In Stockholm County Council, however, HIV has spread among injection drug users since the mid-1980s, and during the 2000s, an average of 20 new HIV cases per year have been reported. In Stockholm, the syringe exchange has been initiated very recently.
The scientific evidence clearly shows that well-designed syringe exchange programs are an effective method for reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis. This is why, among others, the WHO, UNAIDS, the Institute for Infectious Disease Control, and the National Board of Health and Welfare recommend syringe exchange programs as an effective method for reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis. In addition to the humanitarian benefits, every addict who is prevented from becoming infected also means great health and social economic savings.
Since the end of the 1980s, Noaks Ark has advocated syringe exchange as a method for reducing the spread of infection. Over the years, the scientific evidence that supports syringe exchange has become more and clearer. These can be summarized as:
- syringe exchange counteracts the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C
- syringe exchange does not increase the number of addicts
- syringe exchange does not impose drug-liberal policies on countries.
Noaks Ark maintains that syringe exchange is not a drug policy measure, but a
health policy effort for a particularly vulnerable group at risk. We want to emphasize everyone’s right to equal health and assert the right of drug addicts to health care that is adapted to their needs and living conditions.
In our opinion, ideological principles must give way to practical realism, common sense, and a humane approach to people with addiction. This requires access to easily accessible receptions with syringe exchange. According to Noaks Ark, in addition to syringe exchange, such activities must offer:
- infectious disease medicine and psychosocial counseling
- hygienic information about blood-borne and sexually transmitted infections
- HIV testing and diagnosis of other infections
- contact with psychotherapeutic efforts
- contact with care and treatment with the intention of stopping the addiction, preferably before the patient contracts chronic diseases.