By Meg McIntyre
The Ipswich Board of Health authorized a new initiative earlier this month to try to reduce the risk of disease and infection for people who inject drugs.
The syringe service program will allow people to dispose of dirty needles and pick up sterile replacement needles and syringes for free, the town said in an announcement. Participants will also be connected with testing for hepatitis C, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, provided with overdose treatment medication Narcan and given educational information about overdoses. The program will be administered by an outside vendor selected by the board, the release said.
“This is a positive step forward for our community,” Board of Health Chair Susan Hubbard said. “Research shows that syringe service programs reduce the spread of disease and improve health outcomes, and when combined with education and compassion can save lives.”
Ipswich joins more than 40 other Bay State communities that have approved similar exchange programs since municipal health boards gained the right to do so in 2016. Following a 2017 Supreme Judicial Court ruling, privately-run needle service programs require no state or local approval to operate.