Grand Forks Public Health is working on a proposal to establish a syringe service program (SSP) in Grand Forks. This would be the fourth program in North Dakota. SSPs are community-based programs that provide access to sterile syringes at no cost to the client, facilitate safe disposal of used needles and syringes, naloxone, and offer safer injection education. The Grand Forks SSP will also be providing linkages to important services and programs, including substance use disorder treatment programs; overdose prevention education; screening for HIV and Hepatitis C; connections to primary care and medical treatment; and other medical, social, employment, and case management services.
Recent data from the North Dakota Department of Health found a 78% increase in the rate of new Hepatitis C diagnoses in Grand Forks County between 2017 and 2018. Enhanced surveillance of new hepatitis C cases in Grand Forks County in 2017 found injection drug use as the primary risk factor for transmission.
The CDC recommends syringe service programs (SSP), sometimes referred to as syringe exchange programs, as an evidence based intervention to reduce the transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV due to injection drug use and to engage with people who inject drugs to support their entry into recovery. SSPs are legal (NDCC 32-01-44) in North Dakota and 3 programs currently operate in the state, in Fargo, Mandan, and Minot.
Grand Forks Public Health has developed a plan for the implementation of a SSP in accordance with regulations set forth by the North Dakota Department of Health. The staffing and administrative costs of program will be funded by federal opioid grants while injecting equipment will be purchased with private funds. Federal and state funds may not be used for injecting supplies.
For more information about the Syringe Service Program: