WHAT IS A NEEDLE EXCHANGE?
The DC Needle Exchange Program (DC NEX) supplies clean needles to drug users, which lowers their chances of infection. It also connects people to the health services that are right for them. In short, it saves lives.
EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT DC NEX
WHY DOES DC HAVE A NEEDLE EXCHANGE PROGRAM?
DC NEX was created because studies have shown that comprehensive needle exchange programs lower the number of injection drug users who are infected with HIV. They also increase the number of District residents who know their HIV status and guarantee care and treatment for people with HIV and Hepatitis C. Thanks to this program, HIV infections among injection drug users are decreasing in the DC area. They really make a difference.
WHAT SERVICES ARE OFFERED AT A NEEDLE EXCHANGE?
At needle exchanges, injection drug users can exchange used syringes for new, clean ones. They also have access to other services, like medical care, counseling, access to housing programs, drug counseling, and other social services. The idea is to help people who are struggling with a drug habit not only access clean needles but also other services that may help them live a healthier life.
WHERE CAN I FIND A NEEDLE EXCHANGE?
These locations provide needle exchange and harm reduction services:
- Bread for the City, 1525 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001, (202)265-2400
- Family and Medical Counseling Services, Inc., 2041 Martin Luther King Avenue SE, Suite 303, Washington, DC 20020, (202)889-7900 and (202)889-7901
- Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS), 906 H Street NE, Washington DC 20002, (202)232-8150; Hotline: (800)676-HIPS (4477)
WHAT ARE INJECTION DRUGS?
Injection drugs are injected into the blood stream using a syringe, which is also sometimes called a needle. Heroin is the most common injection drug, but people also inject morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and occasionally prescription drugs.
WHAT DISEASES CAN I GET FROM USING AN UNCLEAN NEEDLE?
Any disease that can be transmitted through blood can be transmitted through an unclean needle. That includes (but isn’t limited to) HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
ARE NEEDLE EXCHANGES LEGAL?
Yes, needle exchanges are legal in DC.
ARE THE NEEDLES FREE?
The needles are free or offered at a very low cost.
DOESN’T GIVING PEOPLE NEEDLES ENCOURAGE THEM TO DO DRUGS?
Studies over the past few decades have shown that needle exchanges don’t increase the probability that people will do drugs. Here’s one. Here’s another. And here’s a New York Times article about the topic, in case you want to learn more.