Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) are central to reducing disease and other health burdens among people who inject illicit drugs. Over two decades of research have demonstrated the effectiveness of SEPs in preventing HIV and other blood-borne infections, as well as connecting injection drug users (IDUs) with a range of vital medical and social services and supports. This document summarizes the consensus among SEP experts of the underlying principles and programmatic elements that enable or constrain SEP effectiveness. Effective SEPs have the support of local governing bodies and match sound operational characteristics with responsiveness to the unique features of their host communities. New or expanding SEPs may benefit from technical assistance from the considerable expertise of those experienced in operating SEPs around the country. The panel highlighted operational characteristics that are critical for effective SEPs, and measures to be avoided because they undermine the primary goal of SEP: to make new, sterile syringes available to IDUs.
Recommended best practices for effective syringe exchange programs in the United States
Results of a consensus meeting
Bluthenthal, R., Clear, A., Des Jarlais, D., Friedman, S., Grove, D., Hagan, H., Heimer, R., Heller, D., Kral, A. H., Sherman, S., & Tolbert, R. (2010). Recommended best practices for effective syringe exchange programs in the United States: Results of a consensus meeting. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. http://harmreduction.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/NYC-SAP-Consensus-Statement.pdf