Floyd & Clark County Community Leaders Ask State Senator Ron Grooms To Support Syringe Services Programs
February 22, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
Leaders from Hoosier Action’s Floyd County chapter met with State Senator Ron Grooms this morning to discuss the sunset of syringe services programs in Indiana. At the meeting, community members, faith leaders, doctors, current and former drug users, business leaders, and public health experts all spoke to the importance of access to syringe service programs in our state. At the end of the meeting, Senator Grooms thanked all the speakers and committed to further leadership on the issue.
Syringe services programs are a vital tool to prevent HIV and Hepatitis C and are frontline healthcare for many of our neighbors. Syringe services programs provide vital community-based services which mitigate the harms of substance-use disorder as well as provide vaccination, testing, and linkage to care and treatment for infectious diseases.
If the Indiana General Assembly fails to act, syringe services programs will be forced to end in July 2021. “We’re now in the seventh year of our federal government citing the overdose crisis as a public health emergency,” explained Dr. Carrie Lawrence, a public health researcher, “it hits us in all different areas.”
During the meeting, Dr. William Cooke, the only physician in Austin, IN during the HIV crisis there, pointed out that, “Syringe service programs do not enable people to use drugs, they enable people to live. And the state should never restrict access to people’s ability to live their lives.” He went on to assert that, “The bonds of compassion are stronger than the bonds of fear.”
John Pritchett, who contracted Hepatitis C from using intravenous drugs only once and now works for Indiana Recovery Alliance, underscored the efficacy of harm reduction programs: “It’s no coincidence that the only two counties in Indiana which saw a decrease in overdose deaths within the past few years were also two of the counties operating Syringe Service Programs.”
At the end of the meeting, New Albany Hoosier Action member, business owner, and soup kitchen volunteer Glen Snow, implored Senator Grooms to be a leader on syringe services programs: “I’m asking you, will you take leadership? Will you take charge?”.
ABOUT HOOSIER ACTION
Hoosier Action is a nonpartisan, homegrown community organization made up of thousands of Hoosiers, mostly from rural and small-town Indiana. We believe that all Hoosiers, regardless of how much money they make, should have a say in the decisions which affect our lives.