Dear Friends and Colleagues, and Community Members;
The purpose of this petition is to advocate for syringe exchange programs (SEPs) to legally operate in the state of North Carolina. In addition, we are fighting for the rights of SEP participants to receive life saving materials and information without being persecuted by law enforcement.
North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) is proactively working with a collaborative of community based organization and legislators to introduce a bill to the North Carolina House of Representatives. To garner support in the House, the NCHRC will present these signatures to legislators in Raleigh on May 25, 2010 allowing your voice to be heard.
SEPs benefit all Carolinians. They stop the spread of HIV and Viral Hepatitis and have a cost Benet rate of 16 to 1, which can save the state money during these tough ﬁnancial times. SEPs are proven to: 1) decrease overall community drug use, 2) decrease HIV & Hepatitis incidence, 3) provide free syringes to diabetics, 4) decrease needle stick injuries to police by 66%, and 5) provide a gateway to drug treatment. We are calling for North Carolina to legalize SEPs. North Carolina has over 25,000 injection drug using people who do not have access to a stable supply of clean syringes. This leads to the sharing of syringes, which has contributed to over 35,000 cumulative HIV cases and 150,000 Hepatitis C infections in the State.
More than half of the HIV/AIDS population in North Carolina has became infected by sharing contaminated needles, or having sex with someone who did. In addition, North Carolina is in the midst of a new epidemic of Hepatitis C. The current estimated lifetime cost of care for someone living with HIV is $618,000 and $100,000 for persons living with Hepattis C. Restricting access to sterile syringes is not only bad public health policy, it is bad economic policy. North Carolina has spent, and will continue to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on medical costs to treat injection-related HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C infections that could have been prevented by access to sterile syringes.
This is a public health issue where science strongly supports policy. We have attached links to recent reviews of SEPs and published studies for your reference. This review, backed by the CDC and American Medical Association among others all conclude that SEPs prevent HIV and Viral Hepatitis, that they are cost-effective, and do not increase drug use (see links below).
· Research on the cost effectiveness of syringe access has consistently shown that not only does syringe access save lives—it saves money.
· A recent report from the Australian Government found that cities that introduced syringe access programs had a mean annual 18.6% decrease in HIV seroprevalence, compared with a mean annual 8.1% increase in cities that did not introduce syringe access programs. The national savings from combined HIV and hepatitis C cases averted totaled almost 800 million dollars.
· A report by the HIV Health and Human Services Planning Council of New York City found that if a public health program that offered syringe exchange services prevented just two new HIV infections a year, the program would be cost effective.
· A report on the cost effectiveness of a syringe access program in Alberta, Canada found that there was a cost effectiveness ratio of less than $10,000 per HIV case averted, well below the then-current lifetime HIV care cost of $150,000.
Links to position papers that discuss the evidence behind and unanimously support syringe exchange programs:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - American Medical Association (AMA) - American Nurses Association (ANA) - Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) - National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - American Bar Association (ABA) - National Science Foundation (NSF), Institute of Medicine (IOM)
The bottom line: CLEAN NEEDLES SAVE LIVES
Please take a moment to review the information that unanimously supports the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs.