The Coalition for Syringe Access Applauds Shift in Congressional Policy on Funding for Syringe Services

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, and approximately 50,000 new HIV infections are diagnosed each year. An estimated 3.2 million Americans have hepatitis C (HCV), with nearly 30,000 cases diagnosed in 2013, representing a 151 percent rise from 2010. Recent HIV and HCV outbreaks in Indiana and Kentucky, which are largely driven by injection drug use, further spotlight these national epidemics.

What if a simple adjustment to congressional policy could help stop the spread of these diseases and lower healthcare costs – without costing taxpayers another dime?

Under current law, states are banned from using federal resources allocated for public health and prevention to support syringe access programs. Syringe access programs help prevent the spread of disease by reducing the sharing of syringes and provide critical addiction and healthcare services. It’s time for Congress to lift the ban and allow states the freedom to decide whether syringe access programs will be an effective healthcare initiative in their communities. 

194 syringe access programs in
35 states, DC & Puerto Rico

Syringe access programs provide free sterile syringes and ensure safe disposal of used syringes. Most of these programs also offer a variety of social services, including HIV, HCV, and hepatitis B screenings; referrals to HIV, viral hepatitis, and substance abuse treatment and counseling programs; hepatitis A and B vaccinations; and on-site medical care including overdose prevention training and supplies.
 

Syringe Access Programs...

Help Save Lives and Promote Recovery

These programs have been on the front lines of overdose prevention for decades, providing naloxone training and supplies needed to save lives. Additionally, syringe access programs provide a bridge to medical services, including drug treatment. An Institute of Medicine study confirms syringe access programs do not encourage the initiation of drug use nor do they increase the frequency of drug use among current users. 

 Promote Public Health

In New York City, where 50 percent of all injection drug users were living with HIV in the early 1980s, syringe access programs have helped put an end to new drug-related transmission of the virus. In Washington, D.C., syringe access programs helped reduce drug-related transmission of HIV by more than 80 percent. 

Preserve Public Safety

In Portland, Oregon, the number of improperly discarded syringes dropped by almost two-thirds after the implementation of a syringe access program. A study of Connecticut police officers found that needle stick injuries were reduced by two-thirds after implementing syringe access programs. By comparison, a study in San Diego, which does not have a syringe access program, found 30 percent of police officers have been stuck by a needle at one point in their careers, with more than 27 percent of those injured experiencing two or more needle stick injuries. 

 

The Coalition for Syringe Access is a national organization of stakeholders, from medical societies, to policy and community groups, to the individual programs working in communities to provide prevention and health care services.

30 for 30 Campaign
AIDS Foundation of Chicago
AIDS United
American Medical Student Association
Cincinnati Exchange Project
Drug Policy Alliance
The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)
Harm Reduction Coalition
HIV Medicine Association
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Human Rights Campaign
 

Inter-Faith Criminal Justice Coalition
Infectious Diseases Society of America
NAACP
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable
Open Society Policy Center
Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services