NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – As the Tapestry’s Syringe Access Program marked 21 years of providing services in Northampton, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for an expansion of syringe access programs to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
According to a news release from the Tapestry, the report that prompted the CDC to push for the expansion stated that the “need to address injection drug use and associated risk behaviors exists because of several factors, including recent increases in heroin addiction and overdose; the HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana, which saw an increase in diagnoses from five in 5 years to 181 in 1 year; and the recent 364% increase of HCV transmission in rural areas largely fueled by the current U.S. opioid epidemic.”
Tapestry’s program has been providing the following:
- Access to sterile syringes
- Risk-reduction counseling
- Testing for HIV, hepatitis C, and STDs
- Opioid overdose prevention education
- Referrals to treatment
CEO of Tapestry Cheryl Zoll said, “Thanks to the foresight of the Northampton community, for over 20 years we’ve already experienced the success of syringe access locally. As the country continues to deal with the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic, the CDC’s call for an expansion of these programs further promotes the effectiveness of these programs in reducing the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.”
HIV infections from sharing of syringes have decreased 92% in Massachusetts, since the needle exchange programs were started in the state, according to Tapestry. They said research shows that needle exchange program clients are five times more likely to go into drug treatment than those who never used the program.