Newfoundland and Labrador's only needle exchange program has seen a huge increase in demand, according to the province's AIDS committee.

According to the group, demand on the program is up 50-60 per cent over the last two years.

Gerard Yetman, with the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the packages are made available for intravenous drug users to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.

"Many of us often think of the drug users as that person in the alley or the homeless person and that's not the case. 98 per cent of the people that use drugs are from every walk of life, every socio-economic level. It could be the person you're working next to," he said.

Gerard Yetman

Gerard Yetman, with the province's HIV/AIDS committee, says an increased demand on the group's needle exchange program doesn't necessarily mean more drug users in the province. He says it means there's an increased awareness about the program among intravenous drug users. (CBC)

According to Yetman, the group handed out nearly 180,000 needles, but that number has gone way up today.

"In the past two years we've seen a consistent increase in the number of needles being distributed, and particularly over the last year we're now looking at those numbers doubling," he said.

However, Yetman said he doesn't think this indicates a spike in the number of drug users; rather, it shows an increasing awareness about the needle exchange program.

The group has commissioned a needs assessment report as a result of the increased demand on their services.

Results from the report will be released on Friday.