PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
October 5, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Department of Health Releases Report on Syringe Exchange Demonstration Program

Program Helped 10,000 Residents of Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson Reduce Risk of HIV and Hepatitis

Trenton, NJ - The Department of Health today released a report recommending continuation of the Syringe Access Program (SAP) that has helped 10,000 residents of Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Jersey City and Paterson reduce their risk of HIV and hepatitis and gain access to an array of public health and social services. 

"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. 

The demonstration program was authorized by the "Blood-borne Disease Harm Reduction Act" of 2006 to reduce HIV transmission rates in the state. It allowed for up to six municipalities to participate in syringe access programs. Five municipalities participated. 

Each of the five programs that are currently participating collaborates with health care facilities and community-based organizations that provide an array of medical and social supports including testing for HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases, health screening, nutritional counseling, substance abuse treatment and prenatal care. 

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. As the report notes, "Further evaluation will be necessary to determine the effectiveness of maintaining the current structured syringe exchange program after full implementation." 

The report makes 11 recommendations that are subject to available funding and include:

  • Continue SAPs as permitted by law.
  • SAPs should continue to conduct outreach efforts to increase enrollment
  • Expanding existing screening, treatment and outreach services to SAP participants
  • Increase collaboration with local health departments for influenza vaccinations, TB testing and treatment.
  • Evaluate the impact on the SAP program of the law allowing over-the-counter sale of syringes without a prescription.

To view the full report please visit:  http://nj.gov/health/aids/index.shtml