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  • Policy Statement on Syringe Exchange, Prescribing and Paraphernalia Laws

    Because HIV, HBV and HCV transmission occurs through the sharing or re-use of infected paraphernalia, access to uninfected injection equipment is a key part of infection prevention programs.

    The Infectious Diseases Society of America is strongly committed to public health intervention that decreases transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Intravenous (IVD) use is a major route of transmission for all three infectious agents. Even for IVD users who desire treatment to diminish their addiction, it often is not available or requires a prolonged wait that may lead to additional exposures to other IVD users, and in turn, to their sexual partners and/or children. Because HIV, HBV and HCV transmission occurs through the sharing or re-use of infected paraphernalia, access to uninfected injection equipment is a key part of infection prevention programs.

    The U.S. Public Health Service specifically recommended in 1997 to “ensure” sterile syringes for each injection in IVD users who cannot or will not cease to inject.

    Based on a thorough review of the efficacy and epidemiological evidence and in the context of the HIV public health emergency, the IDSA strongly supports efforts to:

    1. Increase IVD users’ access to clean injection equipment.
    2. Reform and decriminalize syringe possession and paraphernalia laws.
    3. Legalize over-the-counter (OTC) syringe access.
    4. Legalize physician prescribing of sterile syringes to injection drug users.
    5. Allow federal and other funding for syringe exchange programs.

    All of these activities must be coupled with increased provision and access to drug treatment.

 

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