Safer syringe programs are community-based prevention programs that protect people and reduce harms associated with substance use. They 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 to prevent the spread of HIV and viral hepatitis, learning how to use naloxone to reverse an overdose, getting health exams to identify infections and get early treatment, and connecting to recovery support and substance use disorder treatment providers.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s (DHW) 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
Idaho guidance & resources
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 30 days before conducting syringe exchange activities. Registration allows the department to ensure that Idaho safer syringe programs meet state and national guidance. Only registered safer syringe programs will be eligible to receive 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.
DHW offers harm reduction resources to organizations who work with individuals, families, and communities to reduce harms associated with substance use. The following menu details DHW's harm reduction resources, organization requirements, and how to apply.
|Harm reduction service||What DHW Offers?||Organization Requirements?||How to Apply?|
|Safe Sharps Disposal||Purchase sharps disposal drop-boxes accessible to the community||Sign a Memorandum of Understanding with DHW||Contact Randi at Randi.Pedersen@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-334-5612|
|Drug Overdose Prevention||Free intramuscular naloxone or Narcan, overdose rescue kits, storage boxes, training||Complete DHW templated monthly report detailing distribution and outcomes||Complete DHW Naloxone Request Form here, https://app.keysurvey.com/f/41542395/173d/|
|HIV, STD, and Viral Hepatitis Screening||Free rapid HIV, Hepatitis C, and syphilis rapid test kits, controls, training; HIV home test kits||Sign a Memorandum of Understanding with DHW||
Contact Kevin at Kevin.Brinegar@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-334-5612
|Safer Syringe Programs||Guidance and funding||
To received funding: Must register with HSHS as a Syringe Service Program, apply and be awarded subgrant funding
|Contact Randi at Randi.Pedersen@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-334-5612|
|Other novel harm reduction initiatives||Funding to host a meeting, travel to attend training, or program start-up costs||Depends on the request||Contact Randi at Randi.Pedersen@dhw.idaho.gov or 208-334-5612|
To learn more about these initiatives or how they fit into Idaho’s harm reduction programing, contact the DHW 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 to substance use treatment providers.
Nearly 30 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 section administers an annual survey to safer syringe programs and compiles an annual report for stakeholders.