IMPH has released a new policy brief, Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Preventing the Spread of Infectious Disease Through the Provision of Syringe Services Programs. This brief examines the related opioid, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis C virus epidemics in our state and the effectiveness, cost-savings and opportunities of Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) as part of a comprehensive strategy for combatting the opioid crisis and reducing the spread of infectious disease.

Main findings from the brief include:

  • South Carolina is experiencing three related public health crises at the same time. The growing opioid crisis has greatly increased unsafe injection drug use, which in turn has increased how many people in our state have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV).
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has verified that South Carolina is at high-risk for HIV and HCV outbreaks due to increased opioid use and unsafe drug injection activities in the state.
  • Evidence exists that comprehensive Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) reduce transmission of these viruses by providing multiple substance use disorder treatment options and risk-reduction services in addition to sterile injection equipment.
  • Research shows that SSPs are safe, effective and help people enter recovery.
  • There is an estimated return on investment of $7.58 for every $1 spent on SSPs.1
  • Federal funds are available to South Carolina to create SSPs.
  • State law currently prohibits SSPs. State agencies eligible for these funds cannot currently access this funding or implement SSPs.

Click here to download a one-pager of the full report.

Lustig, A. and Cabrera, M. Promoting Health and Cost Control in States: How States Can Improve Community Health & Well-being Through Policy Change. Washington, D.C.: Trust for America’s Health, February 2019.