Harm reduction

May Updates from Syringe Access Services

We are increasing the number of people we serve with harm reduction, overdose prevention, linkage to hepatitis C treatment, and COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

March Data

By Danielle Jennings

We’re serving more people every month 

The number of participant contacts across all of Syringe Access Services sites continues to rise significantly from month to month, regardless of our hours of operation. In March, there were 5,511 participant contacts compared to 4,713 in February. This represents an increase of 17%, which continues the upward trend that began in September 2020 – October 2020. Notably, this was the largest increase in the number of participant contacts in syringe access this fiscal year (FY20-21). 


With the addition of more outreach shifts, Syringe Access Services has seen a significant increase in outreach hours of operation as well as number of participant contacts. Hours of operation increased 26% from February to March (59 in Feb versus 74.5 in Mar). Far more significant was that the number of participant contacts increased by 43% in March compared to February (558 in Feb vs 799 in March).

Onsite Services and Referrals  

There was a significant increase in linkage to hepatitis C care from February to March. There were 72 referrals in February compared to 124 in March, which represents a 72% increase. The increase in health education sessions from February to March was also significant: 1,247 in February compared to 1,621 in March, which represents a 30% increase. Also notable was the increase in testing referrals: in total, Syringe Access Services provided 181 testing referrals in March, compared to 126 in February, an increase of 44%

SAS participants

COVID-19 Linkage to Testing and Vaccination

As we shared in our last Syringe Access Services update, staff are in the field multiple times a week pre-registering people in the Tenderloin for COVID-19 testing at GLIDE.

More recently, our efforts have expanded to include linking people experiencing homelessness for drop-in COVID-19 vaccination services. GLIDE holds a weekly vaccination event on Thursdays from 10 am – 3 pm where folks are able to receive a two shot vaccination. 

We are also providing linkage and staff support for COVID-19 vaccination pop-ups. The most recent vaccination pop-up events we participated in were held at the Safer Sleeping Villages in the Tenderloin. At these events we were able to use the relationships we have built by consistently showing up at these locations twice a week throughout shelter-in-place to provide people health education information so that people could make informed decisions about receiving the vaccine. Vaccinations are completely free to anyone who works or lives in the Tenderloin and is 18 years of age or older. 

Syringe Access Services will continue to provide invaluable health education in the field on COVID-19 as well as health education on COVID-19 vaccinations. Syringe Access Services will continue outreach efforts to get more people connected to testing and connected to vaccination events.

About the author

Ashley Zimmer

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