For three legislative sessions, Northern Nevada HOPES, along with the Washoe County Health Department, the Northern Nevada Outreach Team, and other concerned citizens and community leaders including state Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, fought to repeal the law that made it illegal to possess hypodermic needles or syringes in Nevada.
Why the fight for legalized syringe access?
- It helps save lives. 70% of people who inject drugs contract hepatitis C from shared syringes and about 10% acquire HIV. Syringe Service Programs (SSPs) are scientifically proven to significantly reduce the transmission of infectious diseases.
- It increases access to care. SSPs serve as a bridge for individuals needing medical care and drug treatment services. And numerous studies have shown that SSPs do not increase injection drug use.
- It saves money. Caring for a person living with hepatitis C can cost close to $500,000 and a minimum of $355,000 for someone living with HIV.
- It makes our community safer. SSPs provide safety to first responders and protect children and adults from encountering used syringes in parks and other public spaces.
In July 2013, Governor Sandoval signed Senate Bill 410, thereby legalizing syringe access in Nevada. Following the establishment of operational guidelines by the state, HOPES opened the Change Point Syringe Services Program in January 2014.
Since the beginning of January 2014, HOPES has seen over 30 individual participants in the program and has given out over 400 clean syringes. HOPES’ Harm Reduction and Outreach Coordinator Abigail Polus stated, “Our goal is to set the standard for running a Syringe Services Program. We want to keep people safe and infection-free and provide access to additional HOPES services including affordable healthcare and free HIV testing.”
If you or someone you know would like to become a Change Point program participant, please contact HOPES at (775) 786-4673. Along with providing sterile syringes, Change Point also provides free HIV and hepatitis C testing, sterile injection supplies, safer sex supplies, hygiene kits, and harm reduction counseling. Change Point distributes and disposes of syringes specifically for people who inject nonprescription drugs or hormones, and does not distribute or dispose of syringes used for insulin injection.
Change Point is a program of Northern Nevada HOPES, a full service community health center that provides integrated medical care and support services to individuals with or without insurance. Change Point is located at 445 Ralston Street in downtown Reno, NV. For more information on Change Point or becoming a member of the HOPES community, call us at (775) 786-4673 or visit nnhopes.org/change-point.