Syringe exchange programs (SEP), also known as needle exchange programs or syringe access programs, are an essential component to preventing HIV/AIDS among people who inject drugs (PWID). Despite evidence demonstrating the public health utility of SEPs, federal and state policies (eg, drug paraphernalia laws) have limited their implementation.
PISC Senior Scholar, David Metzger, PhD, and colleagues examine the policy change impact allowing for syringe exchange programs (SEP) implementation on HIV diagnoses among PWID in 2 US cities. Metzger et al. used surveillance data from Philadelphia (1984-2015) and Baltimore (1985-2013) to conduct two tests to measure policy impact change. The Philadelphia model yielded 10,592 averted HIV diagnoses and the Baltimore model yielded 1,891 averted HIV diagnoses over 10 years. Translated to program expenses and conservative estimates of public sector savings, the 1-year return on investment in SEPs remains high at $243.4 M (Philadelphia) and $62.4 M (Baltimore).