Exploding Preconceptions About Needle Exchange Programs

Implementation of a pilot needle exchange program

The City of Baltimore's Needle Exchange Program purchased a mobile van to distribute clean needles to intravenous drug users to prevent the transmission of HIV, reduce AIDS deaths, and provide a way for addicts to obtain treatment.

Key Results

  • In the first 13 months of the program, some 3,400 addicts made 19,000 visits to the van to exchange more than 270,000 needles.

  • Ninety drug treatment slots dedicated to the Needle Exchange Program served 200 clients each year.

  • Data collected by the program showed a significant decrease in addict seroconversion rates (the change in status from HIV- to HIV+) and significant increases in safer drug behaviors among clients.

    • A study by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health indicated that the program reduced HIV transmission by almost 40 percent.
  • The program generated significant interest both domestically and abroad, and has hosted 15 visiting delegations from such places as Japan, China, Africa, Canada, and the Netherlands.

    The program is ongoing, has expanded to two vans, and serves a 5,300-addict population who exchange 500,000 needles a year.