Saving Lives and Resources—New Film Highlights Broad Support for Syringe Services Programs
By Chris Collins
We’ve known for decades that syringe services programs reduce the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases. But did you know that for every dollar spent on syringe service coverage, communities save at least an estimated three dollars on treatment costs averted?
amfAR’s new short film, The Exchange, demonstrates that, besides being proven to reduce the spread of disease, syringe services programs (often called syringe exchanges) are cost effective, encourage the safe disposal of syringes, reduce the risk of needlestick injuries to law enforcement officials, and help give people who inject drugs access to vital drug treatment programs. The film was produced by Waterbound Pictures with funding from the Open Society Foundations.
The film shows the human face of this issue, featuring interviews with syringe exchange workers, public health officials, law enforcement, and participants who benefited from accessing syringe services programs. The Exchange also highlights how much more could be accomplished if more money were available for services.
More than 200 syringe services programs are currently operating in 34 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, but the federal government still does not allow its funding to be used to purchase clean syringes.
We hope that this film, with its powerful support for syringe services from a diverse range of perspectives, will help bring new allies into the fight—including law enforcement, faith communities, and social justice organizations. We invite you to watch the film, share it with your friends and colleagues, and leave comments here about what syringe services have meant to you and your community.
Chris Collins joined amfAR as vice president and director of public policy in April 2009. He is based in amfAR’s Washington, D.C., office.