In 2000, the Department of Health and Ageing engaged Health Outcomes International Pty Ltd (HOI) in association with the National Centre for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR) to undertake a study into the economic effectiveness (or return on investment) of needle and syringe programs (NSPs) in Australia.

The study updates and expands a study previously undertaken by Hurley, Jolley and Kaldor which investigated the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of needle and syringe programs in relation to HIV/AIDS (see 'The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of needle and syringe exchange programs' in An Economic Evaluation of Aspects of the Australian HIV/AIDS Strategies, Technical Appendix 2 to Valuing the past...investing in the future - Evaluation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy 1993-94 to 1995-96).

The study seeks to analyse the effectiveness of needle and syringe programs in preventing transmission of HIV, and hepatitis C (HCV) in Australia from 1991 (that is from when NSPs were well established in all jurisdictions except Tasmania) to the end of 2000. The study then uses these findings to calculate the return on investment from NSPs from 1991 to 2000.