TRENTON – The syringe access program has helped approximately 10,000 people in the state reduce the risk of HIV and hepatitis, according to the state Health Department.
The department recommended in a report issued today that the program should continue. It is being used in Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson.
“This demonstration program has served a hard-to-reach population and at-risk population, successfully helping Intravenous drug users to reduce their chance of contracting and spreading HIV and hepatitis through the use of unsterile needles,” said Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd in a release.
Each of the five programs collaborates with health care facilities and community-based organizations that provide an array of services, including testing for HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases, health screening, nutritional counseling, substance abuse treatment and prenatal care.
According to a report on the program, more than 2,100 participants in the Syringe Access Program were admitted into drug treatment, 825 received HIV testing and 14 individuals who tested positive received treatment. More than 300 women received pregnancy testing and 59 pregnant women were linked to prenatal care and/or drug treatment.
In January, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a measure allowing pharmacies to sell syringes over-the-counter without a prescription.
Among other things, the department recommends that the programs should continue to conduct outreach efforts, increase collaborations with local health departments, and the effect of the law allowing over-the-counter sales of syringes without a prescription.