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.