Needle exchange/BBV

Needle exchange services

Our needle exchange service is provided at our city centre base, on the street, and at a range of outreach locations. The aims of the needle exchange are:

  • To reduce the spread of blood borne viruses (HIV, hepatitis B and C) and sexually transmitted infections
  • To reduce the harm associated with injecting drug use
  • To provide a gateway service for individuals who are ready to make positive changes in their lives

Our needle exchange service provides:

  • Access to a wide selection of needles, syringes, injecting paraphernalia and condoms
  • Safe disposal of used injecting equipment and paraphernalia
  • Advice and information on ‘safer’ injecting practices
  • Advice and support to assist in positive changes in drug use and related lifestyle
  • Quick access to other services
  • Dried blood spot testing
  • Support with blood borne virus issues
  • Information and advice on alternatives to injecting
  • Naloxone training

Blood borne virus services

We are able to support those who are at risk of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C and those who may have been exposed to these blood borne viruses already.

The main features of the service are:

  • One-to-one counselling available for those affected by HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B/C
  • Access to testing and, if appropriate, treatment and clinical support (for those with poor venous access we offer dried blood spot testing - see below).
  • Advice on ways to reduce the risk of transmission of blood borne viruses
  • Advice to people who have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C on ways of minimizing the risk of transmission to others
  • Distribution of leaflets and factual information
  • Maintenance of library resources on HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C
  • Training and consultancy to other agencies on issues relating to HIV/AIDS/hepatitis
  • Liaison and referral to other appropriate services


Dried blood spot testing

This technique is an easier option for individuals with poor venous access. It can, therefore, be used in non-traditional clinical settings and in non-healthcare services where it is performed by workers who have undertaken relevant training.

The test requires a finger-prick blood sample. Drops of blood are placed on a special card and sent to the virus laboratory to be tested for hepatitis C, B and HIV (as agreed). The tests will show if a person has come into contact with these viruses. If a test is found to be ‘reactive’, a further blood test is needed to confirm if there is evidence of ongoing infection. Information is shared with a person's GP and relevant staff on a need-to-know basis so that any relevant medical care can be easily accessed.

Improving access to blood borne virus testing generally provides opportunities for both the patient and their worker to:

  • discuss harm reduction initiatives the patient can take to minimize future problems (including any behaviour changes that may be possible)
  • discuss testing for other infections (e.g. sexually transmitted infections) and HBV immunisation
  • allay an individual’s anxiety regarding their BBV status
  • help access appropriate support and treatment as necessary