Alaska is caught in an epidemic; transmission of Hepatitis C has increased in some rural areas of Alaska by 490 percent in just the last few years. Syringe access programs have been recognized by the Institute of Medicine as a cost effective way to prevent Hepatitis C and HIV, reduce improperly disposed of needles, and provide an access to health care for people who use drugs; however in Homer, Alaska, the nearest syringe access program is 220 miles away. Increasing rates of Hepatitis C among intravenous drug users sparked a grassroots community effort to create a local syringe access program in June, 2016 through an all-volunteer staff, small grants, and nationwide online resources.
To date, this effort has provided over 20,000 free sterile syringes and 100 lifesaving Narcan kits, needle disposal, on site HIV and Hepatitis C testing, education and connection to additional resources and services. Called “the Exchange,” this community collaboration helped create the Southern Kenai Peninsula Opioid Task Force that now includes communities outside of Homer and aims to find local solutions to a national epidemic. People travel miles to reach The Exchange, often through tough weather, so The Exchange offers as many kits as they need to follow safe sterile injection practices until they can return.
The Exchange is entirely volunteer run, but is still reliant on our community's generosity to help fund this critically needed public health service. We are hoping to raise $2000 to buy syringes and other clean injection supplies for the next 4-6 months, as our demand has far outpaced grant funding. If we raise an additional $500, The Exchange will be able to buy and maintain sharps disposal boxes for use in Homer's public bathrooms, keeping needles off the beach and off the spit. The Exchange sincerely appreciates your support-- even the smallest donation goes a long way in making our community a better place for all of us to live and thrive.
You can learn more about how this critical public service helps our community, or how to replicate it in yours, by contacting The Exchange: HomerExchange@gmail.com
or the Southern Kenai Peninsula Opioid Task Force: SKPOpioidTaskForce@gmail.com
Learn more about the Exchange: http://www.kbbi.org/post/exchange-offers-clean-needles-and-more
Why sharps disposal benefits us all: https://www.homernews.com/news/box-of-syringes-collected-on-spit/
Syringe Access Facts: https://harmreduction.org/issues/syringe-access/
Thank you for your support!