What Is a
Syringe Exchange Program?
Syringe exchange programs are a type of harm reduction initiative aimed at effectively reducing transmission of blood borne diseases—like HIV, HCV and Hepatitis B—among those who inject drugs by providing them with sterile needles and syringes, at little or no cost. They also help those who use drugs gain access to medical or mental health services, including substance use disorder treatment programs, and social services such as housing assistance and case management. Studies have shown, syringe exchange programs do not increase community drug use. Rather, they help connect individuals with resources and treatments intended to help them reduce, manage and even stop drug use when appropriate, and successfully reduce rates of disease within the community.
Why Should I Visit an
All exchange programs in North Carolina can:
- Distribute unused sterile syringes and help you safely dispose of used syringes
- Refer you to medication-assisted treatment and opioid overdose prevention resources
- Connect you to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis and mental health care programs
- Provide naloxone kits or refer you to a program that does
- Provide educational materials
Visit the websites below to learn more about syringe exchange programs near you.
North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative
Where Can I Find a
Syringe Exchange Program?
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a comprehensive list of syringe exchange programs across the state.
Where Can I Learn More About
Syringe Exchange Programs?
The DHHS Syringe Exchange FAQ Page
The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) FAQ Page
Creating, expanding, or supporting syringe exchange programs in your community
Syringe exchange programs are part of our state’s Opioid Action Plan. They are recognized as an evidence-based strategy by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For strategies to create, expand, or support syringe exchange programs in your community, contact your local health department, your local health director, or other local officials.
You may also email the North Carolina Safer Syringe Initiative (run by the North Carolina Division of Public Health), or visit the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.
Consider these local strategies to create, expand, or support syringe exchange programs in your community:
- Determine whether there is a syringe exchange program serving your community.
- If not, consider working with your local health department, local officials, health care providers, pharmacies, or community organizations to create a new syringe exchange program.
- Work with local pharmacies to let customers and community members know about existing syringe exchange programs.
- Work with local pharmacies to sell syringes to customers and community members, following the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy guidance.
- To encourage safe disposal of used syringes, install biohazard collection receptacles at local health departments and other appropriate locations in the community; and educate the public on safe ways to dispose of syringes and other medical supplies.
- Partner with syringe exchange programs, local health departments, and other stakeholders to sponsor community clean-up and syringe disposal events.
- Work with syringe exchange programs, local health departments, and medical providers to offer flu vaccines, wound care, and other health services at or through syringe exchange programs.
- Ensure that healthcare providers, social service agencies, pharmacies, and others are aware of the services provided by syringe exchange programs and are prepared to refer clients to these programs.
- Hold supply drives for local syringe exchange programs. In addition to syringes and injection supplies, these programs distribute wound care kits, hygiene supplies, clothing, food, and other goods.
- Offer to print (or cover the cost of printing) healthcare information that syringe exchange programs distribute to the people they serve.