In the fight to end the opioid epidemic and cure untreated cases of Hepatitis C, North Carolina has been ahead of the curve through the effective implementation of harm reduction services. The states of Greater Appalachia have seen surges of lives lost to overdoses and untreated Hepatitis C, both of which are very preventable.
Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) are the primary drivers behind the reduction of overdose and Hepatitis C related deaths. These programs provide naloxone, the overdose reversal drug, and sterile syringes in exchange for used syringes to properly dispose of them. Properly disposing of syringes keeps community members safe and reduces new Hepatitis C and HIV cases.
Like many other harm reduction organizations, Syringe Service Programs act as a junction to a variety of other services, including medical and rehabilitation centers. People seeking assistance with substance misuse, wound care, or Hepatitis C treatment can be directly linked to providers and are supported by fellow social service organizations to ensure clients reach their goals, whether it be curing Hepatitis C or starting their journey to substance use recovery. Although our Syringe Service Programs are far and few between, they have played the most integral role in ensuring North Carolina continues to lead the charge in saving lives.
By: Amanda Von Litoff, Hepatitis Ambassador for Change