StopHIV Atlanta Launches Syringe Distribution Program to Address Racial Disparities in HIV and Opioid Epidemics
Atlanta, GA, May 30, 2023 — StopHIVATL and the Fulton County Board of Health’s (FCBOH) Neighborhood Union Health Center, two Atlanta-based public health entities focused on providing community-based sexual health and safer use resources, announced the launch of a drug user health program. The program aims to provide services, supplies, education, and connections to individuals with a relationship with substances. The program aims to combat the racial disparities in the HIV and opioid epidemics affecting Georgia and the United States.
Statistics regarding injection drug use highlight the urgency of implementing a program of this caliber in metro Atlanta. Injection use is currently the second most prevalent method of contracting HIV. Injection drug users have a 1 out of 160 chance of becoming infected with HIV when sharing a needle. Below, are some Georgia-specific substance use figures:
- In 2021, there were 1,718 opioid overdose deaths in Georgia alone.
- Statewide overdose-related emergency room visits numbered 6,908; 2,441 of those visits were in 11 metro Atlanta counties.
- Fulton County alone reported 255 opioid overdose deaths.
- 63% of stimulant overdoses in Georgia involved synthetic opioids in 2020.
It is crucial to recognize the racial disparities in these statistics. African-Americans comprise 53% of overdoses and 50.5% of overdose deaths in Fulton County. Meanwhile, only 42.5% of Fulton County’s population is Black.
The Neighborhood Union Health Center located at 183 Sunset Boulevard NW in Atlanta will host the Syringe Services Program Drop-In Services every Wednesday, starting in May, from 5 pm to 7 pm. Our staff will provide interested parties with the following:
- Syringes and safer injection equipment, including wound care supplies
- Condoms, lube, and other sexual health supplies
- Education about safer injection practices and sexual health
- Overdose prevention and testing tools like Naloxone, fentanyl test strips, and xylazine test strips
- Case management connections
- Hep C, HIV, and STI testing and treatment
- Mental health treatment referrals and connections
Community and public health leaders recognize that the opioid and HIV epidemics are racial justice issues in Fulton County and Metro Atlanta. StopHIVATL and Neighborhood Union’s Drug User Health Program SSP site operate under a harm reduction framework. Harm reduction meets people where they are without judgment and provides tools and education to help people live their best lives.
Neighborhood Union and StopHIV Atlanta strive to prioritize the health of people with a relationship to substances. The awareness ignited by these conversations will reduce preventable fentanyl-related overdoses, promote the latest evidence-based safer use practices and understand the local street drug landscape. We also aim to destigmatize substance use and reduce access to barriers, preventing people who use drugs from obtaining life-improving and supportive services.
About StopHIVATL: StopHIVATL promotes harm reduction, sexual health, sex positivity, and health engagement. We provide inclusive, non-judgment information and resources on sexual health, drug user health and safer use, Mpox, community events and more. We also offer confidential referrals to testing, prevention (PrEP), and treatment resources to people living in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Cobb Counties.
Want to learn more about StopHIVATL’s mission and services? Visit www.stophivatl.org
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