What are Syringe Services Programs?
Syringe Services Programs (SSPs), (legally known in Ohio as Bloodborne Infectious Disease Prevention Programs), are comprehensive public health/harm reduction programs which are intended to reduce the spread of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV, by providing access to sterile syringes to people who inject drugs. In addition, SSPs serve as an access point for referral to substance use disorder counseling and treatment programs, provide education on the prevention of infection, and offer testing and referral for treatment for hepatitis C and HIV.
It is the intention of Clermont County Public Health to ensure that the above-listed services are provided at a Syringe Services Program in Clermont County.
Are Syringe Services Programs legal?
Yes. The Ohio Revised Code 3707.57 states that a Board of Health may establish a Bloodborne Infectious Disease Prevention Program. In establishing the program, the Board of Health shall determine the manner in which the program is operated and the individuals who are eligible. The program must include the following;
Additionally, the Board of Health must consult with interested parties within the health district including: law enforcement, the County Prosecutor, representatives from community addiction services providers, persons in recovery, the local Mental Health and Recovery Board, representatives from the governing authority of the township in which the program will be established, and the community at large.
It is the intention of Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) to provide all of the services required by ORC 3707.57. Additionally, CCPH has consulted with the aforementioned interested parties via formal presentation, face-to-face communication, phone calls, public forum, and anonymous survey. Additional information regarding the legality of a Bloodborne Infectious Disease Prevention Program (i.e., Syringe Services Program) can be found in the Ohio Revised Code 3707.57.
How will a Syringe Services Program be funded in Clermont County? What will it cost?
According to Ohio Revised Code 3707.57, the cost of the program is the responsibility of the Board of Health. In fulfillment of this responsibility, Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) is partnering with the Mercy Health Foundation, who has graciously agreed to provide the majority of funding to initiate the program in Clermont County beginning in 2018. CCPH will also contribute funds toward this effort. Additionally, CCPH seeks out grants and other funding sources on a routine basis which may help defray costs and provide for sustainability.
Currently, the cost to provide a half-day of service on a weekly basis in Clermont County would be $42,000.00 per year. This cost covers the mobile van, program staff, testing services, and supplies. While this may seem like a significant expense, it is important to consider the potential health care savings that may result from a syringe services program. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single case of HIV can cost $400,000 over the course of a person’s lifetime to treat. Medication cost alone to treat one case of hepatitis C is $94,500. Providing access to clean syringes, education on infection prevention and testing services can significantly reduce the occurrence of these tremendous health care costs.
Who are the partners involved in bringing a Syringe Services Program to Clermont County?
Clermont County Public Health will be partnering with the existing Exchange Project in Cincinnati via a contract with Hamilton County Public Health. This will allow the Exchange Project mobile van to come to Clermont County one half-day per week to provide services. Mercy Hospital Clermont has agreed to provide space in their parking lot where the mobile van will be located.
Why do we need a Syringe Services Program in Clermont County?
Clermont County, like much of the state and the nation, is experiencing an opioid epidemic. In 2016, Clermont County had the fourth highest rate of death due to overdose in Ohio, equating to the loss of 96 lives. This reflects a 96% increase in deaths in our community related to substance misuse since 2011. Likewise, the number of reported cases of hepatitis C, an infectious disease which is readily transmitted through injection drug use, reached 472 in 2016, a 40% increase over the past five years. Additionally, HIV rates have demonstrated a 27% increase among persons living with this illness over the past five years. Harm reduction efforts, such as syringe service programs, have been shown to have a positive impact in all of these areas, making it a valuable tool in the opioid fight.
No. Several studies have evaluated crime rates within a community before and after implementation of a syringe services program. Results of this research show no correlation between crime rates and the presences of an SSP.
No. In practice, Syringe Services Programs have been shown to reduce drug use, as they provide access to counseling and referrals for treatment services. According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who inject drugs are five times as likely to enter treatment for substance use disorder and are more likely to reduce or stop injecting when they use a Syringe Services Program.
For additional information on Syringe Services Programs, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/ssps.html.