Harm Reduction Proven to Work
Harm reduction refers to evidence-based strategies proven to reduce risks of acquiring HIV and viral hepatitis associated with drug use and other behaviors. It necessitates moving beyond blame and judgment – meeting people where they are. Those who use needles should have the opportunity to minimize any negative consequences to their health. Comprehensive harm reduction strategies include having legal access to clean syringes and the ability to safely dispose used ones.
For information on harm reduction policies in North Carolina and what you can do to advocate for improved state policies, visit North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.
Syringe exchange programs (SEPs) save money, increase public safety, and help people who use drugs get into treatment. Syringe exchange programs provide unused syringes to people and remove used needles from our streets, neighborhoods and parks. SEP’s offer information on healthcare and drug use treatment services and provide an avenue to improved behavioral outcomes. Reducing the incidence of HIV and viral hepatitis benefits the public health in general by lowering the rates of transmission and limiting the financial burden to the health care system.
To find a syringe exchange program closest to you, visit nasen.org
In July 2016, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed H972 into law, legalizing syringe exchange programs in North Carolina. To view the law, visit: ncleg.net
Access to syringes through pharmacies
Another way individuals can access syringes is through pharmacies. Pharmacists in North Carolina can sell syringes to any individual without a prescription. There is no public funding available for purchase of needles, syringes, and injection equipment leaving SEPs to rely on private grants and donations for supplies. Pharmacists can fill in the gaps of SEPs through syringe sells. Providing access to syringes decreases HIV and viral hepatitis transmissions and a vital evidence-based public health intervention needed in North Carolina.