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.
Voices From the Front Lines
The Drug Policy Alliance works to end the drug war by partnering with organizations like the St. Ann's Corner of Harm Reduction (SACHR). Joyce Rivera founded SACHR in 1990 to provide support and resources for people who inject drugs and to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the South Bronx.
Today, they are a multi-service agency that serves thousands of people throughout New York City and provides a continuum of interventions that treats the whole person in a manner that is nonjudgmental and culturally capable.
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.
The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance is a national network of over 70 groups building a unified, effective movement for HIV prevention in the United States.
The mission of AIDS United is to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States. We will achieve this goal through national, regional and local policy/advocacy, strategic grantmaking, and organizational capacity building. With partners throughout the country, we will work to ensure that people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS have access to the prevention and care services they need and deserve.
A report in favor of needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and increase access to treatment.
For more than two decades, removal of the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs (SEPs) was a top policy priority for amfAR. Following the removal of the ban by Congress in December 2009, amfAR is now working to encourage effective implementation of federal support for SEPs and to ensure the continued availability of federal resources for these evidence-based HIV prevention programs.
Protecting Law Enforcement from Needle Stick Injuries - Made in cooperation with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), this educational documentary explains how officers can reduce the risk of infection by needle sticks on the job. LAPD officers visit a needle exchange on their beat and explore the ways that Needle Exchange Programs help keep law enforcement officers and their communities safer. Produced by Gretchen Hildebran.
These fact sheets focus on HIV prevention issues related to syringes.
911 Good Samaritan
In September 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 472, the '911 Good Samaritan' overdose death prevention bill, into law. The law, which goes into effect January 1st, 2013, encourages people to call 911 during an overdose by providing limited immunity for low-level drug law violations, such as possession of a small amount of drugs. DPA worked closely with our allies for years to get this life-saving legislation passed, and we are now helping to raise awarenesss of the law.
Bill Would Allow Over-the-Counter Sales of Limited Numbers of Syringes in Pharmacies
Public Health and HIV Prevention Advocates Urge Passage of Life-Saving Legislation
Trenton - On Thursday, February 17th, the New Jersey State Senate will consider life-saving legislation to allow for the sale of limited numbers of syringes in pharmacies without a prescription. The senate voting session is scheduled to begin at 2PM. New Jersey is one of only two states (the other state is Delaware) that completely ban over-the-counter sales of syringes.