MINNEAPOLIS — Syringe exchange programs have been around for years, and were first established to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. Now one Minneapolis nonprofit is making it easier to utilize these services by bringing the exchange to people who need it.
The Aliveness Project started a Mobile Syringe Exchange Unit to help ensure that people who are unhoused or have unstable housing and use injection drugs have a way to safely dispose of used needles and are able to get new ones.
According to a press release from the Aliveness Project, this vulnerable population is at a disproportionately higher risk for HIV infection, and have lower rates of viral suppression.
“Meeting people where they are at and building trust within the community are vital pillars we need to successfully combat this epidemic,” said Brad Bryan, Aliveness Project outreach and syringe exchange manager.
The Aliveness Project saw a growing number of people injecting drugs and an increase in local HIV outbreaks, and expanded their services with the new mobile units. The van can head out into the community to provide the following services:
- Syringe exchange services.
- Naloxone kits and education.
- PrEP navigation services via THRIVE our free PrEP clinic.
- Used needle collection and disposal.
- Safer sex kit distribution.
- HIV and IDU risk reduction education.
- Free rapid HIV counseling, testing, and referrals.
- Linkage to HIV medical care and services.
- Referrals to treatment services, local resources, and more!
For now the unit operates mainly in Minneapolis, but according to Bryan, they hope to expand services in the future.
"I think one of the things that I want to do later on is be able to do deliveries, so being able to you know, text a simple number and be able to have folks be able to just come outside from wherever they’re at," he said.
Anyone with questions about the Mobile Syringe Exchange Unit or the works of the Aliveness Project can call 612-822-7946.
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