HC Deb 02 April 1987 vol 113 cc622-3W
Mr. Stevens

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further steps he is taking to combat the spread of AIDS through drug misuse; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Fowler

The use of contaminated needles and syringes by drug misusers is a major way in which the AIDS virus is spread. We are therefore taking a range of measures designed both to reinforce our anti-drugs strategy and to curb the spread of AIDS amongst drug misusers and from them into the general population.

First, we are continuing to give priority to our strategy for the prevention of drug misuse. The dangers of injecting will be highlighted in the next phase of our AIDS and drugs publicity campaigns.

Second, we are providing an extra £1 million in 1987–88 to help drug misuse services play a growing role in the fight against AIDS. This means central Government will be providing over £6.2 million specifically for drug misuse services during the coming year to add to the contributions health authorities are already making from their own budgets and the £17.5 million which has been allocated to over 180 local projects over six years. The new money is being allocated to the health regions in proportion to their population in the 15 to 34 years age group, which is considered to be at greatest risk of misusing drugs.

Third, we are establishing a number of special schemes where drug misusers who have not yet stopped injecting will be able both to receive counselling and exchange used and possibly infected needles and syringes for clean equipment. We have consulted the interested professional and other bodies nationally and locally about these schemes and our proposals have received a wide measure of support. The new schemes will be in the following areas:

  • Bristol
  • Carlisle
  • Dagenham
  • Hereford
  • Kingston-upon-Thames
  • Liverpool
  • London (3 schemes at St. George's Hospital, Tooting; St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington; and University College Hospital)
  • Peterborough
  • Portsmouth
  • Sheffield

In some cases we will be building on existing exchange arrangements; in others these will be completely new schemes. All the schemes will be closely monitored to help assess their effect on the behaviour of drug misusers and the part this might play in combatting the spread of infection.

These measures reflect the priority which the Government attach both to tackling drug misuse and to protecting the population as a whole from the threat of AIDS.