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Syringe Exchange Program

Syringe Services Programs (SSP)

Syringe services programs (SSPs) are also referred to as syringe exchange programs (SEPs) and needle exchange programs (NEPs). Although the services they provide may vary, SSPs are community-based programs that provide access to sterile needles and syringes, facilitate safe disposal of used syringes, and provide and link to other important services and programs such as

  • Referral to substance use disorder treatment programs.
  • Screening, care, and treatment for viral hepatitis and HIV.
  • Education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices.
  • Vaccinations, including those for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Abscess and wound care.
  • Naloxone distribution and education.
  • Referral to social, mental health, and other medical services.

Are SSPs legal?

Some states have passed laws specifically legalizing SSPs because of their life-saving potential. SSPs may also be legal in states where possession and distribution of syringes without a prescription are legal.

Decisions about use of SSPs as part of prevention programs are made at the state and local levels. The Federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 includes language that gives states and local communities meeting certain criteria the opportunity to use federal funds provided through the Department of Health and Human Services to support certain components of SSPs, with the exception of provision of needles, syringes, or other equipment used solely for the purposes of illicit drug use.