The opioid epidemic is one of the greatest public health crises of our time. Substantial increases in drug use across the country continue to result in tragic outcomes. These include overdose deaths and transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV, and other infections, negatively impacting families and communities across the nation. Only by working together, can we disrupt the cycle of substance use and associated infectious diseases.
To successfully combat this crisis and prevent the transmission of infections, we need to use tools proven to work. Syringe services programs (SSPs) are community-based prevention efforts that offer a range of interventions. These comprehensive programs provide access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment, linkage to substance use disorder treatment, and naloxone distribution. People who use these programs gain access to other vital services including vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases including viral hepatitis and HIV.
Nearly 30 years of research shows that comprehensive SSPs are safe, effective, and reduce overall health costs. They can play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV, and other infections and are a major component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. The U.S. Surgeon General determined that SSPs do not increase the illegal use of drugs by injection. Studies also show that SSPs protect the public and first responders by providing safe needle disposal.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is releasing materials for use by health departments that provide information on the critical role of SSPs in prevention and treatment. These include:
- A summary of information on the safety and effectiveness of SSPs in reducing viral hepatitis and HIV.
- A fact sheet outlining the various ways SSPs help prevent transmission of blood-borne infections and link people to care, reduce and treat substance use, and enhance public safety.
- A fact sheet for health departments and community partners that defines SSPs and their public health impacts.
- Frequently asked questions and answers about SSPs.
All of these materials are available to you online here, Syringe Services Programs (SSPs).
It is our hope that by sharing these materials with you, we will engage the full strength of the nation’s public health and community infrastructure to reduce the toll of opioids and infectious diseases in our communities. We have the tools. We have the science. We can work together to improve the health and security of current and future generations.
All the best,
/Robert R. Redfield/
Robert R. Redfield, MD
Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., MPH
RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention