In advance of the Dec. 1 observance of World AIDS Day, CDC released a new Vital Signs report today that shows the use of syringe services programs (SSPs) has increased substantially over the last decade. The report also suggests, however, that improved access is still needed: Most people who inject drugs also reported they use unsterile needles.
SSPs reduce the risk of HIV transmission and play an important role in reducing the U.S HIV burden. In addition to providing sterile needles and other injection equipment, comprehensive SSPs also offer or link people who inject drugs to other prevention, care and treatment services.
Since the peak in 1993, annual AIDS diagnoses among people who inject drugs have decreased approximately 90%. Concrete steps can be taken to accelerate this progress, particularly as the nation confronts a devastating opioid epidemic.
- More than half (54%) of people who inject drugs in a 22-city CDC study reported in 2015 that they used an SSP in the past year, compared to only about one-third (36%) in 2005
- Still, just one-fourth (25%) of people who inject drugs reported in 2015 that they used only sterile needles, and one-third (33%) reported sharing a needle within the past year – about the same percentage who reported sharing a decade ago (36% in 2005)
- There has been progress among African Americans and Latinos who inject drugs, including declines in syringe sharing and HIV diagnoses, but worrying trends have emerged among whites