Sector News

  1. Exploring Health Services Access to Non-active Injectors


    It is important for former injectors to maintain connections with syringe exchange programs (SEPs) in order to access general social and health services that will help them to maintain sobriety. This study looked at walking distance to needle exchange programs for both current and former people who inject drugs (PWID).


    The study surveyed 137 people who inject drugs who presented for services at syringe exchange program (SEP) mobile distribution sites in Washington DC.


    • Active and non-active injectors do not have equal access to syringe exchange program (SEP) services.
    • Those who are not actively injecting may have less motivation to travel to access services compared to when they were actively injecting and seeking sterile equipment.
    • Non-active injectors may also be seeking healthcare services elsewhere.
    • Challenges to enhancing access to SEP services include policies that restrict where needle exchange programs can legally operate (e.g. certain proximity to schools). Future work should explore enhancing access in areas of greatest need.


    Providing comprehensive services for former/non-active substance users, a vulnerable population, is important for addressing their complex medical and social health care needs such as addiction treatment and support and housing.

    Allen, S., Ruiz, M., and O’Rourk, A. (2015).How far will they go?: assessing the travel distance of current and former drug users to access harm reduction services. Harm Reduction Journal. Vol. 12. Issue 3.