"It's a huge deal because it translates into saving lives and over $107 million of State money on the cost of treatment for those who might otherwise have contracted HIV infections.”
WILMINGTON, Del. (PRWEB) November 20, 2019
One outcome of the opioid epidemic in Delaware has gone relatively unnoticed – the positive impact of the Syringe Services Program. Sharing used syringes increases the risk of contracting an infectious disease. Brandywine Counseling and Community Services is doing a lot to stop this from happening.
“Over 700,000 used syringes have been safely destroyed and exchanged for sterile ones, preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hep C,” said BCCS CEO Dr. Lynn Morrison. “That’s a huge deal because it translates into saving lives and over $107 million of State money on the cost of treatment for those who might otherwise have contracted HIV infections.”
BCCS takes the responsibility of running Delaware’s only (ever!) syringe services program (SSP). “We’ve grown from a small Wilmington-based program to Statewide,” said Prevention Program Manager Adam Smiley. “From the start, we’ve had a great relationship with the Division of Public Health, who has been behind us 100%.”
The initiative started as a direct ‘street outreach’ program in 1987 during the HIV epidemic before being written into law in 2007 as a 5-year pilot program, and made permanent in 2011. SSP now operates via two Winnebago vehicles driven to strategic community locations on a weekly basis across the State. Services include testing for HIV, HepC and pregnancy. Naloxone is distributed along with fentanyl testing strips, first aid kits, safer sex kits and condoms. All services are free of charge and no insurance is required.
In New Castle County, the RV visits several communities. In Wilmington: Hilltop, Eastside, West Center City, Eastlawn, Browntown, 11th Street Bridge, Southbridge and Brandywine Hills. In Kent County: Interfaith Mission, W. Division St., and S. DuPont Highway in Dover, and Harrington. In Sussex County: Rehoboth, Millsboro, Georgetown and Seaford. Stops are also made in Newark and Claymont. Check the BCCS website for the SSP schedule.
The SSP currently has 3,728 participants. Of those residents, more than 70 percent take part in treatment and other health-related services once they make the connection to the program -- meaning there are ultimately fewer cases of HIV and clients get the help they need to transition to a healthier life. Since its inception, SSP has made 65,000 referrals to treatment programs, outpatient facilities and detox centers to help clients continue with their recovery.
According to Dr. Morrison, “The ultimate mission of BCCS is to help communities flourish. No one is turned away. We work with the entire population, because prevention and behavioral services do not, and cannot, differentiate between social classes. We just ask our neighbors to continue to support us and our efforts to eradicate opioid addiction and its devastating impact to the neighborhoods and families of Delaware.”
BCCS is a non-profit organization that offers accessible behavioral health resources to those impacted by substance abuse, mental health issues, HIV, and their related challenges. Programs include prevention, education, early intervention, treatment and justice-involved services.
To learn more about BCCS programs, call 302.656.2348 or visit http://www.brandywinecounseling.org.