A harm reduction approach to address substance use disorders.
Safer syringe programs are community-based prevention programs that protect people and reduce harms associated with substance use. Safer syringe programs protect people by providing safe disposal of used syringes, which protects the public safety workforce and community members from needle-stick injury. Individuals who access a safer syringe program are taking steps to reduce harms associated with substance use by using sterile syringes, getting health exams, and connecting to substance use disorder treatment providers.
Safer Syringe Program providers
The Idaho HIV, STD, & Hepatitis Section can support community health professionals and leaders interested in starting a safer syringe program by:
- Determining community need or readiness
- Partnering with stakeholders to support consensus building
- Providing harm reduction training and technical assistance
- Providing safer syringe program operational guidance
- Monitoring program impact on participants and the community
A safer syringe program is a grassroots community-based prevention program that incorporates national best practices and is flexible and scalable to meet unique community needs and challenges. This start-up guide provides a list of questions for organizations to consider before starting a safer syringe program. View Guide
To help interpret the law and provide additional recommendations, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare developed a guidance document as a resource for organizations establishing and operating a safer syringe program in Idaho. View Recommendations
Safer syringe programs are encouraged to register with the department at least thirty (30) days prior to conducting syringe exchange activities. Registration is a way for the department to ensure that Idaho safer syringe programs meet state and national guidance. Only registered safer syringe programs will be eligible to received funding from the department.
A safer syringe program will be asked for the following at registration:
- Communication Summary - Must include a list of community stakeholders engaged, major points, and proposed plans for safer syringe program implementation.
- Program Plan – Must include the program service area, a safety protocol for the prevention of needle stick and sharps injury, and a sharps disposal plan.
To register, contact the HIV, STD, & Hepatitis Section at 208-334-5612.
On July 1, 2019 safer syringe programs became allowable in Idaho through the passage of the Syringe and Needle Exchange Act (Idaho Code Title 37, Chapter 34). The intent of this law is to reduce transmission of infections such as HIV and viral hepatitis, reduce drug overdose morbidity and mortality, and connect individuals who inject substances to substance use treatment providers.
Nearly thirty years of research shows that syringe service programs are safe, effective, and cost-saving, do not increase illegal drug use or crime, and play an important role in reducing the transmission of viral hepatitis, HIV and other infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation offer trustworthy information based on extensive research of syringe services programs.
Statements of Support
National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) - Statement of Policy: Syringe Service Programs and Other Harm Reduction Strategies
American Medical Association – Syringe and Needle Exchange Programs H-95.958
Public Health Reports – Making the Case for Syringe Service Programs, Perspective of US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adam, MD, MPH.
Health and Human Services Administration (HHS) - 5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis
National Governors Association Brief - State Approaches to Addressing the Infectious Disease Consequences of the Opioid Epidemic
World Health Organization – Harm Reduction
Idaho safer syringe programs offer comprehensive services that protect people and reduce the harms associated with substance use. To learn more about services available and to connect a patient to a safer syringe program visit Safer Syringe Programs for the public.
The HIV, STD, & Hepatitis Section is responsible for measuring the impact of Idaho safer syringe programs. To meet this requirement, the HIV, STD, & Hepatitis Section administers an annual survey to safer syringe programs and compiles an annual report for stakeholders.
Note: 2020 safer syringe program data is currently being gathered and will be available soon.