Assessing the role of syringe dispensing machines and mobile van outlets in reaching hard-to-reach and high-risk groups of injecting drug users (IDUs): a review Academic Article uri icon


  • Reaching hard-to-reach and high-risk injecting drug users (IDUs) is one of the most important challenges for contemporary needle syringe programs (NSPs). The aim of this review is to examine, based upon the available international experience, the effectiveness of syringe vending machines and mobile van/bus based NSPs in making services more accessible to these hard-to-reach and high-risk groups of IDUs. A literature search revealed 40 papers/reports, of which 18 were on dispensing machines (including vending and exchange machines) and 22 on mobile vans. The findings demonstrate that syringe dispensing machines and mobile vans are promising modalities of NSPs, which can make services more accessible to the target group and in particular to the harder-to-reach and higher-risk groups of IDUs. Their anonymous and confidential approaches make services attractive, accessible and acceptable to these groups. These two outlets were found to be complementary to each other and to other modes of NSPs. Services through dispensing machines and mobile vans in strategically important sites are crucial elements in continuing efforts in reducing the spread of HIV and other blood borne viruses among IDUs.

publication date

  • 2007