Harm reduction

March Updates from Syringe Access Services

SAS introduced new services centering trans and non-binary clients, increased drug treatment and detox referrals, and is speaking up in support of a safe consumption services bill.

New Programming

Syringe Access Services is excited to roll out new programming this spring. We are now offering a Community Secondary Syringe Exchange Program that centers trans and non-binary folks who use drugs and/or inject hormones. 

Community Secondary Syringe Exchange Programs (CSSEP) provide community members with syringes, exchange supplies and Narcan through social networks community members are already part of. For example, a community member living in a hotel would bring supplies from Syringe Access Services to other people living in their hotel on a regular basis. This increases access of supplies to people who may face barriers to accessing 6th Street Harm Reduction Center or our mobile syringe access sites. The CSSEP participants meet weekly with our CSSEP coordinator to get supplies, return used syringes and drop off completed data including at least 5 Narcan trainings or refills. 

We hope our new program, which will center trans and non-binary folks, will reach folks that might not otherwise access our services. We have also implemented a survey specific to this programming encouraging community stakeholders to participate in its creation. Folks that participated in the surveys were compensated with gift cards and all participants are paid as part of being CSSEP.

Data Update

By: Danielle Jennings

Onsite Services and Referrals  

A few notable changes from December to January: Suboxone and methadone referrals increased 160%, from 23 to 60, respectively. Detox and drug treatment referrals increased by 600% (1 in Dec vs 7 in Jan). In addition, housing referrals increased 50%, from 44 in December to 66 in January.

Syringe Access Sites 

SAS saw an increase in the number of syringes distributed as well as an increase in the number of syringes returned; that represents a 6% increase in the number of syringes distributed and a significant 25% increase in the number of syringes returned.  

Narcan Distribution and Overdose Reversal

Total successful overdose reversals: 555

Total Narcan doses distributed: 3,130

Policy Updates

By: Andrew Reynolds

For the last several years, San Francisco AIDS Foundation has been part of a coalition of groups looking to bring safe consumption spaces (SCS) into California. We’ve had some successes along the way, but to date we have not been able to pass a law allowing them to operate.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

This year, California State Senator Scott Wiener has re-introduced the SCS bill, SB 57. If passed, this bill would allow SCS to operate legally in California in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles as part of a demonstration project to show that they work. Do we need more evidence that SCS work? No, but this is the process we have to go through to show the doubters! We already know that SCS:

  1.       Reduce drug overdose deaths, including eliminating OD deaths in SCS (NO ONE DIES!);
  2.       Reduce infectious disease transmission like HIV and HCV;
  3.       Reduce public injecting and injection-related litter on the streets;
  4.       Link people to medical and social services;
  5.       AND…they are cost-effective and save money while doing all of this.

Once again, SFAF—and SAS in particular—will work to get this bill passed. Keep your eyes open for emails from us to write letters of support, and there may be opportunities to speak with the state legislators to ask them to vote yes on SB 57. We know they work and are the right thing to do. We just need to convince everyone else, too!

Speak Up for People Who Use Drugs 

By: Laura Thomas 

Harm reduction programs support many people who use drugs’ health and well-being. This past month, our HIV Advocacy Network organized to give public comment to lift up the importance of harm reduction programs as a key component in the city’s continuum of care for substance use treatment at the Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee hearing. If you’re interested in getting involved in fighting for harm reduction programs with us, sign up to join us at our monthly meetings.

About the author

Ashley Zimmer

Ashley Zimmer is the manager of volunteer & community programs for Syringe Access Services at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.