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Syringe Service Programs

What is a Syringe Service Program (SSP)?

Syringe services programs (SSPs) are comprehensive in providing health care and other assistance to persons who inject drugs (PWID). Providing sterile injection equipment and other prevention materials has been shown to reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission, such as HIV and Hepatitis C, and reduces needle stick injuries among community members and law enforcement personnel.

What do SSPs provide?

  • Safe environments for open discussion—everyone is welcome, and everyone's health is important
  • Education on best practices for safer substance use (i.e. safer injection techniques, safer injection sites, methods to reduce the spread of disease or reduce risk of infection), opioid overdose treatment and prevention, safer sexual behaviors, and other related topics
  • Sterile injection equipment (i.e. needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, alcohol swabs)
  • Safe syringe disposal
  • Fentanyl test strips
  • Naloxone
  • HIV and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) testing
  • Pre- and post-exposure HIV prophylaxis medications
  • Immunizations
  • Family counseling
  • Linkage to care, or coordination of care to additional services (i.e. treatment programs, housing, transportation)
  • Support of basic human needs, which may include assistance with gathering clothing, personal hygiene items, food/water, and other basic life necessities.

What are the benefits?

Reduced substance use

  • The CDC reports that new users of SSPs are five times more likely to enter treatment and three times more likely to stop using substances than those who don’t use programs1.

Reduced blood-borne infection transmission

  • Data shows a 50% reduction in HIV and HCV incidence with the use of SSPs. Transmission is further reduced by over two-thirds when combined with medication-assisted treatment programs1. This reduces healthcare costs and the overall burden of disease.

Improved public safety (i.e. less litter)

  • This means a reduction in the number of dirty needles discarded in public areas, which reduces the risk of disease transmission and needle stick injuries.

Opioid overdose prevention

  • Through naloxone education and dispensing

Enhanced support for those in need

  • People that participate in SSPs are more likely to openly discuss their needs, likely because they feel empowered to prioritize their health on their own terms. This leads to safer sex practices and reduced risk of infections.

Sample Program Documents (provided by Red Lake Hospital)

If you are considering program implementation, please review the comprehensive documents below.

To request editable documents, please contact HOPE Committee SSP Lead, LCDR Samantha Gustafson.


CDC Syringe Service Program Fact Sheet

Harm Reduction Coalition is an extensive and diverse network of allies who advocate for policy and public health reform on behalf of people who use drugs.