The Monadnock region’s first syringe exchange program is getting off the ground this month. The pilot program is part of a mobile harm reduction effort by the Keene Serenity Center and funded by the national non-profit AIDS United.
Recovery coaches will deliver a kit with clean water, syringes, tourniquets, disposal bags, and safe injection instructions to homeless people who are addicted to opioids.
Serenity Center director Jocelyn Desmarais Goldblatt says one of the goals is to reduce the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and MRSA, which are more common among intravenous drug users.
“We’re reducing the harm associated with IV drug use. But at the same time we’re establishing a trusting relationship,” she says. “There’s no judgment and we’re meeting people where they’re at.”
Goldblatt acknowledges that many in Keene think syringe exchange programs will enable opioid users, but she says recipients are statistically far more likely to seek support and get into recovery.
“My hope is that we are able as a community to provide as many pathways to recovery as possible and to eliminate the stigma about how people do find their pathway.”
Once it starts this summer, Keene’s will be the fifth syringe exchange program in New Hampshire.