Increasing sterile syringe access through syringe exchange programs and non-prescription pharmacy sales is essential to reducing syringe sharing among injection drug users and decreasing rates of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C transmission. Syringe exchange programs have also been shown to increase the safe disposal of used syringes, protecting police officers and the public from accidental exposure to blood-borne diseases. Despite the benefits of these life-saving programs, legal and bureaucratic barriers still prevent injection drug users from accessing clean syringes. The Drug Policy Alliance has led efforts to increase syringe access in several states and is playing a key role in repealing the federal syringe funding ban. We continue to push for reforms that would greatly reduce rates of disease transmission, overdose and other risks associated with injection drug use.
Syringe Ban Hampering Local Community Efforts to Address Heroin Use and Reduce Diseases Such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Hundreds of Thousands of Lives and Billions of Dollars Have Been Lost As a Result of Decades-Old Ban
Earlier today, more than 140 local, national and international organizations released a letter calling on Congress to end the archaic federal funding ban on syringe service programs (SSPs). The ban was put in place in 1988, repealed in 2009, and reinstated by Congress in 2011.
There is an extensive body of literature documenting the stigma associated with alcohol and other drug problems. No physical or psychiatric condition is more associated with social disapproval and discrimination than substance dependence. For people who use drugs, or are recovering from problematic drug use, stigma can be a barrier to a wide range of opportunities and rights.
Drug Policy Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts to enact policy changes that promote safe and healthy communities, without excessively relying on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the war on drugs, and which fall so disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color.
Syringe Access Proven to Significantly Cut HIV/AIDS
More Than 70 Maryland-Based Doctors and Scientists Send Letter to Senate Appropriate Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) Urging Action
As Congress prepares to finalize the federal budget, more than 70 Maryland-based science and medical professionals released a letter today calling on Congress to lift the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs. The letter urges Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to use her position as Senate Appropriations Chair to lift the ban, noting that “there are few occasions when members of the medical community can unite and advocate for a public health program that costs nothing, saves taxpayer dollars, and saves lives.
SB 13-208 Decriminalizes Possession of Syringes for Participants of Syringe Access Programs; SB 13-14 Expands Access to Life Saving Overdose Antidote Naloxone
Treatment Providers, Public Health Advocates, and Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones to Overdose Voice Support
DENVER — Today, Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign into law two life-saving public health bills. The signing will take place at 2:15 p.m. in the Governor’s Office at the State Capitol. Several family members who lost loved ones to an overdose, as well as public health organizations and advocates will attend the signing ceremony.
SB 13-208 Ensures Participants of Syringe Access Programs are not Criminalized for Possessing Syringes; SB 13-14 Expands Access to Life Saving Drug Naloxone
Treatment Providers, Public Health Advocates and Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones to Overdose Voice Support
DENVER — This week, the Colorado House followed the Senate’s lead and approved SB-208, which allows participants in syringe access programs in Colorado to possess needles, as long as they are not pre-loaded.
In 2009, Congress passed legislation reversing the decades-old ban on the use of federal funding for syringe exchange but, for unclear reasons, in late 2011, it reversed this decision, again withholding federal funding from programs that provide drug users with sterile needles and syringes. This month, Congress approved the health spending budget for the rest of this fiscal year without lifting the ban. This lack of action worsens public health problems, makes our communities less safe, and increases future financial burdens on taxpayers.
Increasing sterile syringe access through syringe exchange programs and non-prescription pharmacy sales is essential to reducing syringe sharing among injection drug users and decreasing rates of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C transmission. Despite the benefits of these life-saving programs, legal and bureaucratic barriers still prevent people who inject drugs from accessing clean syringes.
The U.S. refuses to adopt an evidence-based HIV/AIDS prevention strategy, costing us hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars. However, in countries where addiction is treated as a health issue, the fight against HIV/AIDS is being won. Newly diagnosed HIV infections in many countries have been nearly eliminated among people who use drugs, just as mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been eliminated in countries that make medicines for pregnant women accessible.
The global war on drugs is severely jeopardizing the fight against AIDS. Criminalizing drug use drives the HIV pandemic not just among people who use drugs – but also among their families and communities.