Getting syringes off the street in San Francisco

On a chilly Wednesday in November, San Francisco AIDS Foundation staff, and other community partners, gathered at the Harm Reduction Center for a syringe clean-up event. Small teams of volunteers, armed with tongs and biobins, were then dispatched on pre-planned routes through the Tenderloin, SOMA, and Civic Center to find and safely dispose of discarded injection drug equipment.  

San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO, Joe Hollendoner, Syringe Access Services logistics coordinator, Kristen Marshall, and other volunteers look for discarded syringes. (Photo: San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

Public health programs such as the San Francisco AIDS Foundation program Syringes Access Services (SAS) distribute clean syringes and other safer injection equipment to combat the spread of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis C. But injection litter has been a concern for some San Francisco residents, since syringes left on the street can be a nuisance and pose safety concerns.

Read why unlimited syringe distribution programs are the most effective way to curb disease transmission.

To address these issues, SAS and community partners regularly organizing community clean-up events. In addition, SAS staff maintain 24-hour community disposal containers, dispense safer disposal equipment to clients, and talk to all of their clients about safely disposing injection equipment. Read more about how SAS staff and community partners are addressing the issue of injection litter on the street in San Francisco.

Bleachman, a costumed superhero from 1990 who promoted safer injection procedures, made a special guest apperance at the clean-up event. Here, Bleachman hi-fives Kristen Marshall, dressed in a sharps container costume. (Photo: San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

Pauli Gray, from SAS, explains how to safely pick-up and dispose of syringes during the volunteer training. (Photo: San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

See more pictures in the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Facebook album.

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