More Takers For Needle Exchange Programs in The Last Decade — CDC

A program like a needle exchange helps check the spread of blood-borne diseases among those who use drugs intravenously as well as in the proper disposal of the used syringes.

According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been an upsurge in needle exchange programs in the U.S. during the last decade. However, the report also casts doubts on whether such programs comply with safety measures as most of the drug users refrain from using sterilized needles.

Needle exchange programs

A needle and syringe exchange program is a social service that allows drug users who are in the habit of injecting their drugs to procure hypodermic needles and associated paraphernalia at little or no cost. Such programs are run with a view of obliterating the risk factors for diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. The cost of acquiring the needles may be free but users should return the used needles so that an equal number of syringes are returned.

Previously used needles imperil the lives of users by raising the risk of infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B & C, the report said. When CDC researchers looked into the data of 22 cities with a high rate of HIV among injection drug users, it observed that almost 54 percent of the injection drug users in 2015 reported going to a needle-exchange program in 2014. This is significantly over the 36 percent who used such programs in 2005.

Sharing needles can increase the risk of communicable diseases

What is alarming is the fact that despite the rise in the usage of needle-exchange programs, 33 percent of drug users admitted to using a shared needle in 2014. This increases the chance of contracting communicable diseases manifold.

According to Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of CDC, the prescription opioid epidemic along with heroin is wreaking havoc in the country affecting families, communities and everyone who has come under its purview. In fact, the threat of a potential outbreak of HIV is also looming large, he added. The CDC aims at helping people live long lives by quitting substance abuse and remaining HIV-free by ensuring that people do not infect themselves at the time of injecting, and SSPs is the best way to achieve these, Frieden said.

Of all HIV infections detected in the U.S., 9 percent account for injection drug users every year. The report claimed that this has largely caused the rise in acute cases of hepatitis C infections (150-percent) in recent years in the country.

Despite progress being made in preventing HIV among people who inject drugs in the U.S., the success could be short-lived, said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. The researchers flay such practices of using syringes, which were already used by somebody else.

Dr. Mermin further observed that to make rapid progress in these areas it is imperative that programs like syringe services work out efficiently, and there is regular expansion in the coming decades.

Although HIV prevention among black and Hispanic injection drug users has been steadfast, the stats for white drug users is not very encouraging. As per the survey reports, the percentage of black and Hispanic shared syringe users has shrunk over the years. However, no such steep drop has been noticed among white users in the same period.

Combating drug abuse

Addiction is not the end of the road as a turnaround is possible with timely treatment. Symptoms deteriorate with long-term addiction and it becomes difficult to handle withdrawal during detox. That is why it is advisable to seek treatment for any kind of addiction without delay.

If you or someone you know is addicted to any drug, contact the California Drug Addiction Helpline. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855–980–1946 if you are looking for drug rehab in California or elsewhere. Our experts can guide you to one of the top drug rehab centers in California or any other in your vicinity.

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