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Say NO! To A Used Syringe. A Needle Exchange Programme

Quality level: 1


Nationwide syringe exchange programme, which has been ongoing since October 1993 in order to prevent HIV and other infectious diseases among injecting drug users.

Type of intervention:
harm reduction
prevention of infectious diseases (e.g needle syringe programmes)
needle/syringe provision
Type of approach:
Target group:
adults, children/young people
Age group:
Annual coverage:
Substances addressed:
opiates, cocaine and derivatives
Evaluation type:
outcome evaluation, process evaluation
Start date:
End date:

Overall objective

To prevent HIV and other infectious diseases among intravenous drug users.


The needle exchange programme, "Say NO! to a used syringe", is a nationwide syringe exchange programme which has been ongoing since October 1993, involving some 2 500 pharmacies throughout Portugal. It is run by the National Committee against AIDS - set up by the Ministry of Health and the National Association of Pharmacies - a nongovernmental organisation representing the majority of Portuguese pharmacies. The programme is also supported by cooperatives, pharmaceutical wholesalers and local municipalities. The programme consists of exchanging used syringes for a free kit containing two sterile syringes, a condom, two small disinfectant towels, an ampoule containing distilled water, a filter and an information leaflet. The material given to the pharmacies includes descriptive literature on the programme procedures and information on AIDS, such as how to deal with contaminated material, how to approach HIV-positive individuals, etc., a professional leaflet, a poster to stick up in the pharmacy, various leaflets, containers for used syringes, kits and a door sticker. The poster, strategically placed in the pharmacy invites drug addicts to come in and put their used syringes and needles in a proper container, in exchange for a kit provided by the pharmacist under a "gentleman's agreement" - two syringes for one kit. At the same time as the programme was started, a media campaign was launched by television, radio and the press, and posters were stuck up in discotheques and bars in order to attract the attention of the target population and of young people in general to the problems associated with drug addiction, in particular HIV transmission through needle-sharing. Since each pharmacy had a variable number of drug addicts, they were given the possibility of ordering the number of kits and used-syringe containers they needed from the pharmaceutical distribution cooperatives. Seven cooperatives took part in the programme.

The PDF contains the full intervention description including additional contact information.


Dear visitor,

We're currently conducting a short survey of this resource (EDDRA: Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action). The survey will take no more than 2 minutes and we would be really grateful for your contribution.

No, thanks — maybe some other time

Yes, I'll take the survey!

Many thanks,

The EDDRA team


Page last updated: Friday, 20 January 2012