|Posted:||March 4, 2020 10:50 AM|
|From:||Senator Patrick M. Browne and Sen. Anthony H. Williams|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Sterile Syringe Program legislation|
|In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation that will allow the commonwealth to better address the rise in both Viral Hepatitis, HV, and overdose deaths by expanding access to the public health intervention of sterile syringe distribution.
This legislation is NOT a supervised injection site like the proposed Philadelphia site that was recently in the news.
Sterile Syringe Programs (SSP) are legal in half of the United States, including all our neighboring states. SSPs are a proven public health method in combatting the spread of infectious disease. The Center for Disease Control finding states that individuals who engage with syringe service programs are five times more likely to enter treatment than their peers are. When combined with medications that treat opioid dependence, HCV and HIV transmission is reduced by over two-thirds. This intervention allows for the dynamic engagement of people who use drugs in our community and helps guide them on the path to safety, wellness, and recovery.
Currently, syringes are distributed in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh SSP centers. A recent study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome estimates that Philadelphia’s syringe exchange prevented more than 10,000 HIV diagnoses in its first 10 years of operation and saved the city of Philadelphia $2.4 billion over 10 years, or roughly $240 million annually.
Expanding these programs will save the commonwealth millions annually. The deans of Pennsylvania’s Public Health Schools support these programs. As Pennsylvanians continue to deal with the impact of the opioid/overdose crisis, Syringe Service Programs should be allowed to operate freely across the commonwealth. Support from the General Assembly will enable more programs to operate, improve public safety, decrease needle stick injuries to the law enforcement community, and allow people who use drugs to easier access evidenced based treatment options as they work towards recovery.
Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation.