Syringe Exchange Program in D.C. March 4, 2010Posted by Anita Balan in Prevention, Wellness.
Tags: AIDS, HIV, IDU, Intravenous Drug User, needle exchange, SEP, Syringe exchange, Syringe Exchange Program
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Washington D.C. has 3% of its residents living with HIV/AIDS. This rate is highest in the nation. According to December 2005 fact sheet CDC estimates that almost one fifth of all HIV infections are transmitted by Intravenous Drug Use (IDU). As an emerging public health professional who believes in prevention, and harm reduction, I think it is, once again, time to look at the benefits of needle exchange or Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP) and the ways in which it is beneficial to prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C.
SEP has been implemented in this country for more than twenty years and has helped in reducing the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C. The way it works is very simple: Those who share needles, either to inject drugs or hormones can exchange their used needles for sterile ones. This prevents users from sharing contaminated needles with one another thereby preventing the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood borne diseases . SEP is administered throughout the country including D.C. by hundreds of not-for-profit and community- based organizations. SEP has been proven to cost-effective, effective in reducing transmission and overall rates of HIV and Hepatitis C and do not promote substance use/abuse. SEP also reduce the sharing of needles among users and encourage users to use sterile needles until they are ready to quit using.
more after the jump…