Officials with the Syringe Access Fund announced today (Tuesday, Feb. 16), that the agency in January awarded 58 grants, totaling $2.6 million over the next two years, that are focused on policy and implementation support for syringe exchange programs.
According to statistics provided by the Syringe Access Fund, infected needles result in 3,000-5,000 new cases of HIV and approximately 10,000 new cases of hepatitis C each year in the U.S. Scientific evidence has shown that syringe exchange programs significantly reduce transmission of HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-borne illnesses without promoting drug use, the Syringe Access Fund officials say.
The grants come about a month after President Obama signed new legislation removing the federal ban on needle exchange programs. That legislation, which the president signed in December, was passed in the wake of the largest HIV outbreak in Indiana’s history last year, in which more than 188 people were newly infected, mainly through injecting drugs with dirty needles.
CDC officials have estimated the lifetime treatment costs associated with the Scott County outbreak may exceed $100 million.
The Syringe Access Fund, the largest private grant-making collaborative supporting syringe exchange programs, was founded in 2004 and is supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, (the now closed) Irene Diamond Fund, Levi Strauss Foundation, Open Society Foundations and AIDS United. Syringe Access Fund has distributed nearly $18 million through 347 grants to 161 organizations in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.