Health Hazards of Discarded Syringes in Syracuse

May 24, 2014

Drug users have been and are littering our city with used needles, which have been
found along sidewalks, in churchyards and playgrounds, in yards, in piles of raked
leaves, and under porches of homes where children live. Syringes have been found to
carry viruses causing AIDS and hepatitis C. Discarded needles pose a significant
health hazard to anyone picking them up, because these viruses can still be active for
up to six weeks on a used needle.

ACR Health operates a mobile syringe exchange in Syracuse's Near Westside
community. The purpose is to distribute clean needles to drug users and thus prevent
the spread of communicable viruses causing AIDS and Hepatitis C. Not all needles
distributed by ACR Health are returned, so some are discarded in the neighborhood.
ACR Health, being a leader in this field, realizes this inherent health hazard and has
trained personnel to pick up the needles when notified that they are found on the

It has been nine months since a five-year-old Westside child was accidently stuck with
a discarded needle. Yet despite our public officials' awareness of this incident, there
has not been any effort to create a public policy to respond to this health hazard.

We, therefore, ask and demand that:
1) A public announcement be issued to create awareness of the dangers of touching
used needles.

2) A concrete system be created for the safe disposal of needles and for raising
community awareness.

3) Drug users be made aware of the hazard they are creating and be allowed to take
responsibility for their actions.

4) ACR Health run a true needle exchange, with a used syringe returned for each
new one given, thus alleviating the issue of needle litter.

We find the unbridled distribution of needles to drug users, without adequately
addressing the harm it causes the community at large, to be in conflict with our
organization's values and goals for our neighborhood. We believe that the goal of
protecting the health of drug users need not conflict with the goal of protecting the
safety of our community. We are sure that together we can ensure the safety and
health of everyone. We urge you to work with us and to take action.

--Westside Residents Coalition, Syracuse, June 2014; also endorsed by Syracuse
United Neighbors and Westside Community on the Move

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