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Needle Exchange Program

Q. Does needle exchange encourage drug users to keep using drugs by giving them syringes?

No. Numerous medical and professional organizations have studied syringe exchange and concluded that it does not encourage drug use. Rather, it is a highly effective way to prevent the spread of HIV and helps link drug users with drug treatment, medical care, counseling, and other social services.

Q. Does needle exchange really reduce the transmission of HIV?

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania ran an eight year study of the Philadelphia needle exchange program. Within the eight years, the rate of new HIV infections dropped from 6.8% to less than 0.05% per year.

“A meticulous scientific review has now proven that needle exchange programs can reduce the transmission of HIV and save lives without losing ground in the battle against illegal drugs.” - Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Q. Why drug users, when so many other people are affected by AIDS?

In Delaware, 43% of those currently living with HIV/AIDS and 50% of all HIV/AIDS cases are directly or indirectly related to needle sharing/IDU. 58% of the state’s IDU cases are Wilmington residents. Wilmington Blacks are especially affected by the epidemic and particularly, HIV infection directly and indirectly related to needle sharing. Not only are we helping IDUs, but we are also protecting their wives, husbands and partners.

Q. Is this legal?

Yes. Our Syringe Exchange Program was authorized by the State of Delaware in June of 2006 Senate Bill 60. It is a Division of Public Health sponsored harm reduction program. The City's lawyers and other legal experts concluded that the state's drug paraphernalia law never intended to interfere with legitimate disease control activities carried out by publicly-funded and authorized programs like the Delaware Needle Exchange Program. Other cities across the state and country, including Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles have also authorized needle exchange programs.