For Immediate Release: November 15, 2018
Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 876-2820
Syringe Access Fund Grantees Share Front-Line Accounts and Offer Recommendations to Address Opioids and Infectious Diseases
Washington, DC – On a telebriefing today, AIDS United convened staff from the Syringe Access Fund and grantees, to discuss a new report on trends identified through its latest round of funding and their first-hand experience on the front lines of the opioid crisis and recommendations to address this growing threat.
The opioid and HIV epidemics, two of the most pressing public health challenges of our time, are increasingly intertwined. One in 10 new HIV diagnoses arise in people who inject drugs. Meanwhile, despite the availability of a cure, hepatitis C (HCV) now kills more Americans than all 60 other nationally notifiable infectious diseases combined. However, funding for syringe services is not matching to account for these trends, even while demand and costs have skyrocketed. And the government’s response has largely not been helpful as it focuses on drug treatment and criminalization, rather than harm reduction.
“Access to sterile syringes is a proven public health tool to prevent the transmission of HIV and HCV,” said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United. “Despite longstanding, clear scientific evidence, the federal government continues to hedge its support for syringe services by prohibiting the use of federal dollars to procure sterile syringes. And, too many state and local authorities continue to oppose these programs, even as their residents’ need for them grows. The Syringe Access Fund was designed to step in where government refuses to act. With the opioid epidemic raging, the Syringe Access Fund is needed now more than ever.”
Despite these challenges, the U.S. has seen unprecedented growth in the number of syringe services programs (SSPs) operating in every region, with many states legalizing such programs quite recently; and the federal government’s longtime ban on funding for them being partially lifted just two years ago. AIDS United has released a report exploring the 2016 to 2018 cycle of the Syringe Access Fund, elucidating key dynamics, similarities, and challenges among longtime and start-up SSPs alike.
The Syringe Access Fund is a national grantmaking collaborative that supports service providers and policy projects that reduce use of shared syringes and ensure their safe disposal. Over the last decade, it has awarded more than $20 million to 177 organizations in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. With this support, grantees have distributed over 66 million syringes to more than 350,000 clients. For more information, visit www.aidsunited.org/saf.
About AIDS United:
AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. through strategic grant-making, capacity building, and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. www.aidsunited.org
About the Syringe Access Fund:
The Syringe Access Fund is a national grantmaking collaborative, supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, H. van Ameringen Foundation, Irene Diamond Fund, Levi Strauss Foundation, Open Society Foundations and AIDS United. It supports service providers and policy projects that reduce use of shared syringes and ensure their safe disposal. For over a decade, the Syringe Access Fund has made remarkable impact on public policy and health, awarding more than $20 million to 177 organizations in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. With this support, grantees have distributed over 66 million syringes to more than 350,000 clients and have led advocacy efforts to change laws around the country, so these programs can reach more people in need. From 2018 through 2020, SAF is distributing nearly $2.4M in communities across the country to support HIV and viral hepatitis prevention efforts. These funds will support syringe services at 62 organizations across 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aidsunited.org/about-syringe-access-fund/