Syringe exchange programs are one of the most effective public health interventions for decreasing the transmission rates of HIV and other blood borne diseases such as hepatitis C, as well as connect users to treatment and other important needs such as housing or food assistance.

In states with legalized syringe exchange programs, people who use injection drugs turn in their used or “dirty” needles in exchange for unused, clean needles.

By expanding access to clean syringes and ensuring a safe way to dispose of bio-hazardous materials, syringe exchange programs create safer environments for the community at large. Additionally, syringe exchange programs are shown to lead to a 66% reduction in needle-stick injury to law enforcement. 

While it is a common myth that syringe exchange programs encourage, enable or increase drug use, as well as crime, decades of research from organizations including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, show that syringe exchange programs do none of those. In fact, many studies demonstrate that syringe exchange programs decrease drug use by connecting otherwise marginalized people to treatment. It is estimated that syringe exchange program participants are five times more likely to enter drug treatment than non-participants.

Please click here for more information on syringe exchange programs as a public health intervention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information on the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs as a comprehensive public health approach. Click here to read more from the CDC.



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