Syringe Services Programs: Technical Package

Content From: Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., RADM and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS, Director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionPublished: December 21, 20202 min read


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Cross-posted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[From December 18, 2020]

Dear Colleague,

Today, CDC released Syringe Services Programs: A Technical Package of Effective Strategies and Approaches for Planning, Design and Implementation [PDF, 706KB] . This technical package provides evidence of the effectiveness of strategies and approaches to support successful planning, design, implementation, and sustainability of syringe services programs.

Syringe services programs are community-based prevention programs that can provide a range of services, including access to sterile syringes and injection equipment; linkage to treatment for substance use disorder; and vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases. Syringe services programs protect the public and first responders by facilitating the safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Providing testing, counseling, and sterile injection supplies also helps prevent outbreaks of other diseases, like HIV or viral hepatitis.

CDC designed this technical package in partnership with the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), to provide information on the development and implementation of effective syringe services programs for health departments, community-based organizations, and partners. It provides a broad framework for emerging and existing syringe services programs to reduce harms related to injection drug use, ensure needs-based service delivery, and link participants to services that support their health and wellness. Syringe services programs can use the technical package to help guide effective planning and implementation and to identify opportunities for program enhancement.

There are five key strategies and approaches for syringe services programs:

  1. Involving people with lived experience and recognizing the expertise of syringe services program participants in design, policies, and implementation.
  2. Using a needs-based distribution approach. Access to a sufficient number of sterile syringes is a key component of a comprehensive strategy aimed at limiting the spread of infectious disease among people who inject drugs.
  3. Providing core services (syringe distribution and safe disposal) and expanded services (such as infectious disease screening and treatment).
  4. Collecting data at syringe services programs on trends, needs, and program effectiveness.
  5. Ensuring program sustainability.

We hope these evidence-based strategies and approaches will grow and sustain the critical services these programs provide. Please join us in supporting the work of syringe services programs in your communities and distribute this technical package to your networks.


/Jonathan Mermin/
Jonathan H. Mermin, M.D., MPH
Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General, USPHS
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention