What is RUSH?
Needle and Syringe Programs have been one of the biggest successes in modern public health care. Designed to reduce the transmission of blood borne viruses among people who inject drugs, Needle and Syringe Programs are an important, evidence based public health initiative. The first Australian NSP started in 1986 as a pilot program in Darlinghurst in inner Sydney as a response to HIV. As a result of this initiative, in Australia HIV infection is very rare among people who inject drugs and the wider community. In many other countries, including the US and parts of Europe where Needle and Syringe Programs were not established as quickly, HIV spread rapidly amongst people who inject drugs and then to the wider community through sexual contact.
RUSH (Responsive User Services in Health) is the Needle & Syringe Program in Northern Sydney. RUSH provides a range of injecting equipment, education and information on reducing the harms associated with drug use. We also provide our clients with referrals to treatment, medical care, legal and social services.
As part of the Needle and Syringe Program, RUSH is an important collection point of used injecting equipment, encouraging people to dispose of used needles and syringes safely.
It’s about keeping people healthy.
It is estimated that the savings to the health care system in avoidant treatment costs for HIV alone are more than 20 times the cost of running Needle and Syringe Programs within Australia.
Hepatitis C is also a significant public health issue in Australia. Already the most common reason for liver transplants in Australia and with roughly 1% of the community infected, the Needle and Syringe Program’s effectiveness in curtailing further spread of this blood-borne virus in of undeniable value to the health system.
At RUSH, we’re often the first point of contact between health services and people who inject drugs. Needle and Syringe Program workers are able to provide education and information to otherwise difficult to reach communities, facilitating better health awareness and entry into drug treatment. While we don’t condone illegal behaviours such as injecting drug use, we acknowledge that these behaviours occur despite vigorous efforts to reduce supply and demand.