What are syringe exchange programs?
Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) provide free sterile syringes to anybody, for any use and safely dispose of their used syringes. Many also offer a range of health and supportive services, such as screening and counseling for communicable diseases, safer injection techniques, medications for overdose prevention, and referrals to health care and treatment programs.
Why is it important to use sterile syringes?
Sharing needles with others increases your risk for communicable diseases such as HIV and Hep C.
Reusing your own needles dulls the tip and increases your risk for bruising, bacterial infection, and skin abscesses.
Are SEPs legal?
It varies state by state. All locations listed on Haystak are in states where syringe exchange is not explicitly illegal.
YES, SEPs are found in:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico
NO, SEPs are currently not found in:
Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, Virgin Islands
See more at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
What if my state doesn’t offer any syringe services?
If you’re in a state that doesn’t offer dedicated spaces for syringe services, you can try other clinics, pharmacies, hospitals. Many places offer syringe exchange as one of their services, even if it is not a service listed on their website. Be careful and safe: not everyone you ask will say “yes.”
For those who are interested in starting a syringe exchange in their area, the Harm Reduction Coalition can help you every step of the way.
Will pharmacies sell me syringes even if I don’t have a prescription?
In the state of Minnesota, it is legal to purchase up to 10 syringes at pharmacies. However, pharmacists have the right to choose whether to sell or not-sell to any given customer. More information on the law can be found here: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/hiv/syringe/mnpharmacy.html