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New Effort to Expand Access to Syringe Services Programs in Pennsylvania Will Save Lives from Overdose

Syringe Services Programs Proven to Reduce Overdose Deaths and HIV Transmission

Today, Pennsylvania State Senators Patrick M. Browne (R-Lehigh County) and Senator Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadelphia County, Delaware County) introduced a memo in the Pennsylvania State Senate calling for co-sponsors for proposed legislation to allow for syringe services programs in the state.  Pennsylvania currently has the third highest rate of drug overdose deaths and the ninth highest rate of new HIV infections in the nation. 

Currently, syringe services programs operate successfully in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where they were authorized under local public health authority in the 1990s.  But other areas of the state have not benefitted from programs because of local concerns that they conflict with state law.  The proposed legislation would explicitly allow for the programs.

Statement from Daliah Heller, Director of Drug Use Initiatives, Vital Strategies:

“Pennsylvania is one of the states hardest-hit by the overdose epidemic, reporting 4,491 accidental drug-involved deaths in 2018, the third highest in the nation. We are thrilled to see the Commonwealth advance a public health approach to this crisis by growing access to syringe services programs.  These programs are a win/win for health – cutting HIV infections by half and quintupling the chance that individuals who participate will enter treatment. They are a key access point for the life-saving opioid overdose antidote, naloxone.  Expanding these vital public health programs will save lives and improve the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians.”

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

Media Contact:

Tony Newman: +1 646-335-5384