The AIDS Outreach Project & Snohomish County Syringe Exchange is a Syringe Services Program (SSP) of Pacific Treatment Alternatives. Our program is a 1-1 exchange, with staff’s discretion. We are not a syringe distribution program or a ‘needs based’ syringe program.
The outreach portion of our project started in 1988 in response to the increasing numbers of people being diagnosed with the newly discovered disease: HIV/AIDS. Our Outreach Staff took to the streets with ‘bleach & teach’ kits, condoms, and written information. They sought out individuals who were injecting drugs in areas of our county where injection drug use was known to be happening. Our staff offered HIV/AIDS education and risk reduction information so that people who were using could lower their risks of contracting or spreading HIV, and would know where to go to get tested for the virus.
In 1994, the Syringe Exchange portion of our program was implemented to further address the needs and lower the risk of people who were injecting drugs. Early on in the HIV epidemic it was determined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that injection drug use was one of the highest risk behaviors for contracting HIV and it remains a significant risk factor to date. Our program fallows the guidelines set forth by the CDC for a successful SSP to operate in a community. Our program provides many services besides syringe exchange (see below). We also work together with many other local groups and organizations to stay up-to-date with what is happening in our county as the current opioid epidemic effects us all.
With our current 2.6 full time employees, a group of loyal volunteers, and together with other community connections our program continues to educate and serve the population of Snohomish County who are experiencing addiction due to their injecting drug use. We also offer support and referrals to families and loved ones who may be struggling to understand addiction in a friend or family member and are seeking information and resources for their own ongoing support.
In Snohomish County in 1996, our program exchanged approximately 124,000 syringes.
In 2008, we exchanged approximately 500,000 syringes.
In 2017, we exchanged 2.2 million syringes.
In 2018 our yearly total of syringes exchanged was over 2.5 million.