Injection drug use is associated with a high risk of infection by blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, but sterile syringe access programs help lower these risks by limiting syringe sharing and providing safe disposal options.
These programs also provide people who inject drugs with referrals to drug treatment, detoxification, social services, and primary health care.
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.
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 injection drug users from accessing clean syringes.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is working to ensure wider access to sterile syringes throughout the country. We support removing syringes from the criminal code by ending policies that criminalize syringe possession and limit sterile syringe distribution.
DPA has played an instrumental role in the struggle to eliminate the federal ban on syringe access funding. We have led successful efforts to launch syringe exchange programs and facilities in several states, most recently in New Jersey.
DPA backs the non-prescription, over-the-counter sale of syringes, which is now permitted in all but two U.S. states. We support state efforts to exempt syringes from paraphernalia laws and broaden the legal definition of medical necessity as it relates to syringe access.
We also favor allowing doctors to prescribe syringes to their patients, a practice few states currently permit.
Ban on Allowing States to Use HIV Prevention Money on Life-Saving Syringe Programs was Overturned in 2009 After 20-Year Struggle
Reinstatement of Ban will Lead to Thousands of New HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C Cases Annually
Legislation Passes 54-24 with Bi-Partisan Support, Heads to Governor Christie’s Desk
Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Cheer Passage of Life-Saving Legislation that Would Allow Pharmacies to Sell Syringes
Trenton—Today, the New Jersey State Assembly passed life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The legislation received bi-partisan support, passing by a vote of 54-24. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.
Legislation Passes 8-1-2 with Bi-Partisan Support
Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Cheer Passage of Life-Saving Legislation
Trenton—Today, the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee approved a life-saving bill to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The legislation received bi-partisan support, passing by a vote of 8-1-2. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.
Committee Scheduled for Monday, November 21, 10 a.m.; Bill Would Allow Over-the-Counter Sale of Limited Numbers of Syringes in Pharmacies
Public Health, and HIV Prevention Advocates Urge Passage of Life-Saving Legislation
Trenton—On Monday, November 21, the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee will consider life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of a limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 16 on the 4th floor of the State House Annex. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sale of syringes.
Report for Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Health
This report from the Public Health Association of Australia makes recommendations for a syringe access model at the Alexander Maconochie Centre, an Australian prison with a particular focus on rehabilitation.
Syringes Can Be Purchased at Pharmacies Without Prescription and Areas in Need Can Apply for Syringe Access Programs Through CA Dept. of Public Heath
Most Important HIV Prevention Policy Change in California in a Decade
California Governor Jerry Brown signed two life-saving bills last night that will help prevent new HIV and hepatitis C transmissions in California. The two bills expand access to sterile syringes, which is by far the most effective way to prevent HIV and hepatitis C among people who use drugs. These bills will save lives and save the California taxpayer money.
Carole’s son Martin died from injection-related AIDS when he was 33. Carole knew her son was an injection drug user, and as a nurse she knew he could get HIV from sharing dirty needles. She also knew that in New Jersey there was no legal way for him to get clean needles.