Education | Why a Syringe Exchange?
ACoRN operates a syringe exchange program out of the Good Neighbor Clinic in White River Junction, Vermont, every Tuesday and Thursday from 12:30pm-2:30pm. This program is partially funded by the Vermont Department of Health. At the syringe exchange, we offer clean syringes & disposal of used syringes, clean works (cottons, cookers, etc.), bleach kits, HIV and hepatitis C testing & counseling, and condoms. All exchanges, tests, and materials are free and anonymous.
So why do we operate the syringe exchange program?
HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) are spread through blood to blood contact, and sharing needles or works when injecting drugs is one of the easiest ways to transmit and contract these diseases.
- One third of people with HIV in the United States were infected through injection drug use
- Every year, another 8,000 people are newly infected with HIV through sharing contaminated syringes
- Every year, another 15,000 are newly infected with hepatitis C through sharing syringes and contaminated injection equipment
- Younger injection drug users generally become infected with hepatitis C within two years
With easy access to clean syringes and works, and with the ability to dispose of used syringes safely, the transmission of HIV and HCV could be significantly reduced. Syringe exchange programs work to stop the spread of these diseases.
Research has shown that syringe exchange programs reduce HIV and hepatitis C transmission, reduce risky behaviors, and can even increase enrollment in drug treatment programs. Syringe exchange programs DO NOT promote substance abuse, but rather take a realistic approach to meet injection drug users "where they're at" to come up with strategies to reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting HIV and HCV.
It is not only a small group of citizens who support syringe exchange programs; many government officials have come to realize their importance as well. Surgeon General David Satcher stated that syringe exchanges are "an effective public health intervention that reduces the transmission of HIV and does not encourage the use of illegal drugs.” Before him, Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders said that "Our best scientific research shows that needle exchange programs do not increase drug use, but do reduce the spread of HIV."
For more information, please contact Laura at HIV/HCV Resource Center or Lauraacorned@gmail.com, or visit:
North American Needle Exchange Network | www.nasen.org
The Harm Reduction Coalition | www.harmreduction.org