In Brief: Syringe exchange program starts Tuesday

A pilot syringe exchange program, The Exchange, starts with its first event from 5-7 p.m. next Tuesday, June 21, at the South Peninsula Hospital Training Center at 203 West Pioneer Avenue. The project will take place in the southwest corner of the building. The Exchange will be offered 5-7 every other Tuesday. The Exchange is established and operated by a group of individuals and agency representatives in the Homer area that support the idea of harm-reduction and safer drug use as a means of making our community a safer place to live. The primary goal of The Exchange is to reduce the spread Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and bacterial infections among intravenous drug users by exchanging used needles and syringes for clean ones.  During their visit participants in the program will be offered various health, treatment and recovery related information, as well as rapid on-site testing for Hepatitis C and HIV. Dr. Sarah Spencer, a local doctor board certified in addiction medicine, will be overseeing this project. Certain nonidentifying information is recorded for statistical and funding purposes only (including gender, age range and zip code). All information is kept entirely confidential.

The Exchange safely disposes of all syringes that are turned in. This reduces the number of discarded syringes on our sidewalks, beaches, yards, parks, and play grounds. Its goal is to get used syringes out of circulation as quickly as possible. The longer a syringe remains in circulation, the more opportunities there are for that syringe to pass on a blood-borne disease. Several studies have shown compelling evidence that needle exchange programs decrease HIV and hepatitis transmission, but do not increase the use of injection drugs.

Participants in the program receive safe syringe disposal and exchange, Narcan overdose response kits, free rapid HIV and Hepatitis C testing, information about addiction treatment and recovery programs, and condoms. For more information, email