Scranton, PA - Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Secretary Dr. Denise Johnson today visited The Wright Center, a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Opioid Use Disorder Center of Excellence, to discuss syringe service programs and the important role they play in the drug treatment process.
“Thanks to syringe service programs already in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, many Pennsylvanians have found their bridge to treatment and social services,” Dr. Johnson said. “We want to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths. We need to use every tool at our disposal and the success of existing programs is evidence that residents across the state could experience better health outcomes if more syringe service programs are available.”
Nationwide, syringe services programs are also associated with a significant reduction in injection-related HIV and Hepatitis C.
“It is more vital than ever that we bridge the divide between mental health and substance use disorder that still exist,” Steve Ross, special assistant to the secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said. “By offering harm reduction options like syringe service programs, we can meet people who use drugs where they are and work to address the conditions of their drug use.”
The Wolf Administration worked closely with members of the General Assembly to develop Senate Bill 926 and House Bill 2264, which would allow additional organizations outside of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to engage in this work. Currently, there are more than 400 syringe service programs currently operating in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Multiple studies show that access to clean syringes reduces HIV, hepatitis B and C transmission and other blood-borne pathogens in people who inject drugs. Syringe services programs also increase public safety and protect law enforcement and first responders by properly disposing of used syringes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals who participate in syringe service programs are five times more likely to enter drug treatment.
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