Through our syringe access and disposal program, people who inject drugs access sterile equipment and can safely dispose of bio-waste. Used syringes are disposed of in accordance with established biohazardous waste standards. In 2016 our program safely removed from circulation 23,000 pounds of used injection equipment.
Our syringe access program operates 6 days a week in seven San Francisco neighborhoods in addition to doing homeless encampment outreach and is one of the nation's largest harm reduction programs, providing more than 2.7 million sterile syringes a year. The program is made possible by more than 100 volunteers and peer educators who help with hospitality, neighborhood syringe cleanups, overdose prevention and health education, and provide referrals to health and social services.
We have provided street-based syringe access services to people who inject since 1993 and expanded hours and services at our multi service harm reduction center in September 2016. The 6th Street Harm Reduction Center is open 44 hours a week in the South of Market Neighborhood offering HIV/HCV testing, linkage to care and treatment for HIV and Hepatitis C, weekly health education and substance use treatment and therapy groups, and through partnerships with the Stonewall Project, Harm Reduction Therapy Center, Glide Harm Reduction Services, and the Department of Public health, offer drug treatment, counseling, expanded testing hours, and low barrier medical care.
We are a place of welcome and for many, a bridge to pathways to improved health and healing.
It's true, our syringe access program, then known as "needle exchange" once inspired the mayor of San Francisco to declare an ongoing public health state of emergency. Read about it in our special article "History of Health: Needle Exchange in San Francisco."