New York: Drug Users to Get Clean Syringes
October 13, 2011
With approval recently granted by the state Health Department, AIDS Community Resources will offer a syringe-exchange program in Syracuse beginning next month. The state will provide ACR $150,000 a year for the SEP, and a one-time $85,000 grant to buy a specialized mobile outreach van.
The van will regularly operate on the east side near East Fayette and Croly streets, and on the west side near Fitch and Dudley streets. Injection drug users (IDUs) can turn in used syringes for sterile ones at the van. In addition, current and former IDUs will walk through targeted neighborhoods doing exchanges from their backpacks.
To obtain syringes, IDUs will have to register with the SEP. They then receive a card to show in case they are stopped by police, since a 2010 state law exempts SEP clients from arrest for possession of syringes containing drug residue. The SEP also will make referrals to detoxification and other health services. "Syringes are a component of a much larger picture," said Joe Racalto, interim director of the program.
Racalto noted that in addition to street-drug injectors, SEP clients might include high school students who inject steroids, as well as diabetics with inadequate insurance coverage.
The SEP has the strong support of the Onondaga County Health Department, the Syracuse Police Department and Mayor Stephanie Miner.
Syringe exchange is cost-effective, compared with the estimated lifetime cost of $360,000 to care for one person with HIV, said Michael Crinnin, ACR's executive director. By reducing needle-sharing, the SEP also aims to prevent new hepatitis C infections.
10.12.2011; James T. Mulder
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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