The Coalition for Syringe Access Supports Implementation of Syringe Access Programs as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Address the Health of People Who Use Drugs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and approximately 40,000 new HIV infections are diagnosed each year. An estimated 3.9 million Americans have hepatitis C (HCV), with 30,500 cases diagnosed in 2014. The CDC has identified 220 counties that are most vulnerable to outbreaks of HCV and HIV related to injection drug use. These counties are spread across 26 states and represent only 5% of counties overall. Currently, 90% of those 220 counties vulnerable to HIV/HCV outbreaks do not have comprehensive syringe service programs.
Syringe access programs, also referred to as needle or syringe exchange and syringe services programs, help prevent the spread of disease by reducing the sharing of syringes and provide critical substance use disorder and healthcare services.
320 syringe access programs in
41 states, DC, Puerto Rico& U.S. Virgin Islands
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 use disorder 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.