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Needle Exchange expands hours and impact on community

Posted Dec 08 2010 12:50pm

Needle Exchange LogoOne of AIDS Action Committee ’s many policy and advocacy initiatives has been to provide individuals access to clean needles as a way to effectively prevent HIV transmission.  In 2005, AAC chaired the Massachusetts Pharmacy Access Campaign in an effort to provide over-the-counter sales of clean needles in pharmacies, which eventually led to the 2007 Pharmacy Access Law .

While the Pharmacy Access Law was a huge victory, program participants still experience significant economic and stigma-related barriers when purchasing needles at pharmacies. AIDS Action’s Cambridge NEP Drop-In Center seeks to help reduce those barriers, and remains one of the few places to access not only free, sterile syringes and disposal, but also life-saving education on topics such as safer injection and overdose. Providing a safe, judgment-free space allows more injection drug users to acquire the tools to protect themselves from HIV, Hepatitis and other blood-borne illnesses, and increases the likelihood of connecting them with other resources such as substance use programs and counseling.

In the past year, the NEP Drop-In Center was able to provide clean needles to nearly 2,000 individuals, with a 79% return rate of used needles. On top of that, 571 Narcan kits were distributed, a life-saving tool that can be used to reverse a potentially fatal overdose. Just recently the NEP Drop-In Center decided to expand its hours of operation, piloting new Saturday hours from 11am-2pm.

The Cambridge Needle Exchange provides the following free, confidential, and non-judgmental services to injection drug users, their partners, and family members:

  • Clean syringes, safer injection supplies and personal sharps containers
  • Overdose prevention and education including Narcan distribution
  • Wound care kits including education on abscesses and Cellulitis
  • Rapid HIV testing
  • Harm reduction counseling
  • Referrals to medical and social services and Hepatitis C screening and care
  • Help with enrollment in detox, methadone, and residential and outpatient counseling programs
  • Peer support groups and educational workshops

Cambridge NEP Drop-In Center
17 Sellers Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-599-0246

Winter Hours Sunday-Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Friday: 11am – 5pm
Saturday: 11am – 2pm

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