Brandywine Counseling and Community Services announced the expansion of its Syringe Services Program to Kent and Sussex counties beginning April 3.

With funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and support from the Delaware Department of Health, BCCS can offer SSP services to substance abusers ages 14 and older in Dover and Seaford via its Community Outreach Prevention Education mobile health clinics.

The SSP saves individuals with the disease of addiction from exposure to infectious diseases by giving them new sterile syringes in exchange for used ones. By preventing the sharing of syringes, SSP reduces the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

The new program in Kent and Sussex counties will be offered Mondays. In Dover, John Wesley Church, 211 W. Division St., will accommodate the BCCS COPE mobile health clinic to host the SSP program from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. In Seaford, the Ace Seaford, 547 N. Bradford St., will host the mobile clinic from 10 a.m. to noon.

The program helps bring substance abusers into treatment.

Studies by the National Institute of Health show that SSPs reduce syringe sharing and the subsequent spread of HIV by 30 to 70 percent. Delaware has one of the highest rates of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S., and the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Delaware caused by syringe sharing is estimated at 36 percent — more than twice the national average. Studies show that SSPs also encourage substance users to seek drug abuse treatment and recovery.

The syringe exchange program also saves money. Treating one HIV-positive person costs $618,000 over the course of his or her lifetime.

In addition to syringe exchange services, the COPE program offers other wellness services, including: HIV and hepatitis C testing, referral services, counseling and overdose education.

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