Until 2009, federal law banned spending federal funds to support syringe access. This ban inhibited medical providers from operating syringe access programs in order to address the dual problems of infectious disease and addiction.
In 2009 Congress voted to remove the ban on funding syringe access, allowing states, local governments and non-profits to offer cost effective disease prevention that is in the best interest of their communities.
Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a statement affirming the public health value of syringe services programs (SSPs). The notice reiterates that syringe exchange services are an effective way of reducing HIV, while also encouraging people to enter drug treatment. The Surgeon General's notice cites a study that found that participants of a syringe exchange program were five times more likely to enter drug treatment than people using injection drugs who did not have access to or visit a syringe exchange program (Hagan et al. 2000).
To view the notice, issued by the Health and Human Services Department on February 23, 2011, click here. The notice was issued in the Federal Register Vol. 76, No. 36 page 10038. Please visit SAMHSA's (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) "Bibliographic Support for the Syringe Services Program" for a list of studies supporting the efficacy of syringe exchange.