296 Nonotuck Street w Florence, MA 01062 w p: (413) 586-2016 w f: (413) 586-0212 w www.tapestryhealth.

org

MEDIA ADVISORY: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Contact: July 11, 2012 Leslie Tarr Laurie President/CEO (413) 586-2016 x 106, (413) 461-8181 llaurie@tapestryhealth.org Timothy Purington Director of Prevention Services (413) 586-2016 x 124, (413) 218-9510 tpurington@tapestryhealth.org

Holyoke Welcomes First Needle Exchange to Stop HIV
What: Following a unanimous vote by the Board of Health and approval by Mayor Alex Morse, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has authorized Tapestry Heath to expand its Needle Exchange Program (NEP) to Holyoke. The city’s Chief of Police and Director of Public Works each support this effective public health intervention. Holyoke joins Northampton, Boston, Cambridge, and Provincetown as cities in Massachusetts with NEPs. Needle exchange aims to curb transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases via reused syringes, particularly among injection drug users (IDUs), by offering new ones. Services at the Holyoke NEP include sterile syringes, safe disposal, HIV counseling and testing, hepatitis C and STI screening, addiction counseling, overdose prevention training, harm reduction education, and referrals to treatment programs. The site also serves as a designated place for residents to drop off their used injection equipment, such as insulin syringes. Who: Tapestry Health has served western Massachusetts and Holyoke for nearly forty years, beginning as a provider of family planning and reproductive health care. The agency established the Northampton Needle Exchange Program in 1995. 15A Main Street, Holyoke, MA 01040 Holyoke has the third-highest rate of people living with HIV/AIDS in the state. Injection drug use accounts for 32% of HIV new cases in the city, compared to 12% statewide. Research has proven that NEPs prevent unsafe injection practices and associated infections, including HIV and hepatitis C. Furthermore, IDUs who have used a NEP demonstrate a five times greater likelihood of entering drug treatment than those who have not. NEPs often provide IDUs with their sole form of health care, ensuring access to crucial services and resources for those who are low-income or living in poverty. Additionally, NEPs promote public safety and sanitation by removing contaminated syringes from the streets and lessening the number of syringes discarded in open spaces. Please contact Leslie Tarr Laurie or Timothy Purington for more information.

Where: Why:

How:

Tapestry Health has provided high quality, affordable care throughout western Massachusetts since 1973. It offers family planning services, reproductive health exams, HIV counseling and testing, STI screenings, needle exchange, homeless and reentry assistance, WIC, community education, and insurance enrollment, among other vital services. ###