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Syringe Access Program Stigma Still Exists


By Gina Miraglia, Wellslpring Preventionist

In October of 2017, the Trump Administration declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. In response, the department of Health and Human Services of the US government announced a 5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis. However, a recent study showed that there is less support than expected among Americans to reduce the risk of overdose and infections among opioid users using evidence-based strategies.

In the June issue of Preventive Medicine journal, a study of over 1,000 American adults expressed their views on syringe access programs (SAPs) and safe injection sites. The study revealed that “only 29% of respondents supported legalizing safe injection sites in their communities and only 39% supported legalizing [SAPs] in their communities.” Those with unsupportive views were also found to have negative views about opioid users.

Though this study exposed unfavorable views about these opioid epidemic tactics, it was still extremely valuable as it publicized the importance of reducing stigma through education. Even with little public support for these strategies, research shows they can greatly reduce the prevalence of HIV, Hepatitis B, and overdoses.

Though the study did not find much bias between age, race, gender; there was significant differences between political views. Only 18% of Republicans favor safe injection sites in comparison to 39% of Democrats. Similarly, 30% of Republicans favor SAPs in their community in comparison to 52% of Democrats.

With the data collected, researchers are now trying to determine how to design educational champagnes to increase public support and help reduce the stigma behind opioid users and safe injection sites.

Photo by Jair Lázaro on Unsplash

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Friday, 19 April 2019

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