Syringe Trade & Education Program of TN
Chattanooga CARES provides syringe exchange servicesHour of Operations Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday: 8AM-5PM Tuesday: 8AM-6PM Friday: 8AM to 12:30PM
Why offer syringe trade?
It is common for injection drug users (IDUs) to share needles, syringes, and other injection equipment. 40% of new IDUs share needles. The one-time use of syringes is the most effective way to limit the transmission of HIV among IDUs, with research showing that HIV infection rates are decreased by 80%. STEP TN provides a way for injection drug users who continue to inject to safely dispose used needles and syringes and to obtain sterile needles, syringes, and supplies at no cost. STEP TN also provides prevention and care services that can help injection drug users reduce their risks of becoming infected or transmitting HIV, Hepatitis C, or other bloodborne diseases.
Is syringe trade legal?
Yes. In May 2017, the State of Tennessee enacted Senate Bill No. 806. This bill allows for any nongovernmental organization to establish and operate a needle and hypodermic syringe exchange program. The law was created to address the opioid crisis by reducing the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), viral hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases in this state.
How does SSPs work?
People are encouraged to bring in their dirty syringes, but this is not required. Many users collect syringes in detergent containers and bring the container to a syringe exchange site when it is full. Some individuals dispose of syringes in public bathrooms that have needle collection boxes. Some may have had their equipment confiscated and don’t have any syringes to exchange. Injection drug users often are fearful of getting caught with dirty needles by police.
Staff also offer interested participants condoms, and testing for HIV and hepatitis C. Staff provide information and referrals for addiction treatment, mental health services, and other resources. Only adults are served with this program.
What are the benefits of SSPs?
Based on existing evidence, the U.S. Surgeon General has determined that SSPs, when part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, can play a critical role in preventing HIV among persons who inject drugs (PWID); can facilitate entry into drug treatment and medical services; and do not increase the unsafe illegal injection of drugs. These programs have also been associated with reduced risk for infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Many SSPs offer other infection prevention materials (e.g., alcohol swabs, vials of sterile water), condoms, and services, such as education on safer injection practices and wound care; overdose prevention; referral to substance use disorder treatment programs including medication-assisted treatment; and counseling and testing for HIV and viral hepatitis. SSPs also provide linkages to other critical services and programs, including screening, care, and treatment for HIV and viral hepatitis, HIV pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), prevention of mother-to-child transmission, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination, screening for other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis, partner services, and other medical, social, and mental health services. SSPs also protect the public and first responders by providing safe needle disposal and by reducing the number of people living with HIV and HCV infections who could transmit those infections to others.
Do SSPs increase drug use in a community?
No. Based on existing evidence, the U.S. Surgeon General has determined that SSPs, when part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, do not increase the illegal use of drugs by injection. The opportunity to expand HIV and viral hepatitis prevention services through SSPs will support communities in their efforts to identify and prevent new infections. SSPs are an effective public health intervention that can reduce the transmission of HIV and facilitate entry into drug treatment and medical services, without increasing illegal injection of drugs. SSPs often provide other services important to improving the health of persons who inject drugs, including referrals to substance use disorder and mental health services, physical health care, social services, overdose prevention and recovery support services. Studies also show that SSPs protect the public and first responders by providing safe needle disposal.