Increasing Hepatitis C infections, sanitation workers' exposure to contaminated sharps, and time taken unnecessarily from police departments are some of the negative side-effects of the sharing and improper disposal of syringes. These are issues a partnership between Indiana University’s Student Agile Response Team (START), Center for Rural Engagement, and the Prevent Pricks initiative aim to address.
Prevent Pricks is a project that helps communities establish safe and accessible syringe disposal sites, a component of the harm reduction approach to substance use disorder (SUD). Harm reduction is a set of principles that, according to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, incorporates a spectrum of strategies that includes safer use, managed use, abstinence, meeting people who use drugs “where they’re at,” and addressing conditions of use along with the use itself.
Harm reduction principles are the driving force behind syringe service programs (SSPs), which the Centers for Disease Control define as programs that provide a range of services, including linkage to SUD treatment; access to and disposal of sterile syringes and injection equipment; and vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases. Since the legalization of SSPs in Indiana during an HIV outbreak in Scott County in 2015, only eight of the 92 Indiana counties have opened an SSP—and, Scott County Commissioners recently voted to close the local SSP by the end of the year despite community and statewide protest.