September 6, 2018
Written by AIDS United
SSPs are community-based programs that provide access to sterile needles and syringes free of cost and facilitate safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Some public health entities refer to SSPs as syringe exchange programs (SEPs), syringe access programs (SAPs), needle exchange programs (NEPs), or needle-syringe programs (NSPs). As described in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidance, SSPs are an effective component of a comprehensive, integrated approach to HIV prevention among people who inject drugs. These programs have also been associated with reduced risk for infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Federal funding has historically been barred from supporting SSPs. However, in December 2015, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 removed parts of that funding restriction. Following this, HHS released their Implementation Guidance to Support Certain Components of Syringe Services Programs in March 2016. The guidance outlines the application process through which state or local health departments, directly funded by HHS, might redirect some of their pre-existing funding to either create or expand SSPs in the event of an ongoing or potential outbreak of HIV/ HCV related to injection drug use. Since then, several federal agencies released additional guidance, highlights of which are presented below.