Rural Needle Exchange Project

Description of Program

What is the intervention/program/project?
The Rural Needle Exchange Project is a mobile needle exchange that serves rural/remote populations in Mainland Nova Scotia. People often hear about the program through word of mouth. A van, staffed with a driver and additional staff member, travels to different rural/remote communities throughout the week. Clients may be texted/called the day before and for some clients who we have served for years they just know Mainline is scheduled for that day and are confident Mainline will be there. Staff provide safer injecting and safer smoking equipment, as well as referrals to other health and community services. Mainline tries to hire previous ‘contacts’ who have past experience with illicit drug use and/or have real life experience. Staff connect with contacts through talking one-on-one and facilitate connection to community programs, public health nurses and health centers.
What is the goal/objective of the intervention/program/project?
The goal of the Rural Needle Exchange Project is to reduce the spread of HIV, HCV and other BBPs among populations engaging in high risk behaviours in rural Nova Scotia.
Why was the project originally intervention/program/project?
When the Mainline Needle Exchange opened in 1992, the staff members were all people who had real life experience. They were well connected with people who use drugs in the province. They began receiving requests to deliver supplies to communities surrounding Halifax. At the time, staff members used their own vehicles to deliver and pick up harm reduction supplies. It became too expensive for people to use their own vehicles without funding.
How was the intervention/program/project developed?
The project developed organically based on the connections that the staff at Mainline had with people who use drugs across the province. Mainline submitted a proposal in 1993 entitled “It Costs Less to Fund a Needle Exchange Program than to Treat One Person for HIV/AIDS.” This proposal transformed the mobile needle exchange into a more formal project.


Mainline Needle Exchange

Program Type

  • Community
  • Education
  • Harm reduction
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Individual
  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Harm reduction

Populations Served

  • People who use drugs

Contact Information

Name: Diane Bailey

Position: Executive Director

Phone: 902.423.9991



Location Information: 

Mainland Nova Scotia
The mobile needle exchange services rural areas in Mainland Nova Scotia including South Western and Northern Nova Scotia. The program provides on reserve services as well.



Project Resources

Available upon request.

Resources for Program


  • One full-time employee at the Mainline office, plus one part time staff.
  • Two employees operating the mobile exchange.


  • Staffing
  • A van and fuel
  • Harm reduction supplies


  • Harm reduction supplies [The Health Authority funds for needles, alcohol wipes and condoms. Other supplies must be acquired through fund raising or project funding].

Start Date





Output tracking

  • Number of new and returning clients, gender of clients, total needles distributed and returned, total condoms distributed, total safer crack kits distributed, total referrals to education, housing, community services, legal and medical services.

Evaluation Terms

Output tracking