Statistics from the Drug and Alcohol Service, which is run by the Health Department, show that around 90,000 needles were distributed in 2012 – the lowest figure since at least 2005. In 2014 there were 129,027 needles given out and last year that figure was 115,660.
The scheme is designed to cut the number of cases of hepatitis C – a contagious liver disease that can be fatal – and HIV, which can be easily spread by sharing non-sterile needles used to inject drugs such as heroin and amphetamines.
But figures show that between 2005 and last year there has been a steady increase in new hepatitis C cases reported every year.
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