We are pleased to announce that the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center and the North Carolina Division of Public Health Injury and Violence Prevention Branch are launching our 2020 Injury-Free NC Academy on Establishing Syringe Exchange Programs. The purpose of this program is to work with community-based organizations and teams engaged in drug user health efforts to establish and operate harm reduction-based syringe exchange programs to prevent disease, injury, and overdose.

What is the Injury-Free NC Academy? 

The Injury-Free NC Academy is a training and program development resource for injury and violence prevention practitioners in North Carolina. Each cycle of the Injury-Free NC Academy focuses on a timely topic affecting North Carolinians. The Injury-Free NC Academy on Establishing Syringe Exchange Programs will focus on planning, establishing, and operating syringe exchange programs (SEPs) to serve people who inject or otherwise use drugs.

Over the 3-day training, teams will work together to learn how to establish and operate SEPs in their communities. Each participating team (3-5 members) will be matched with the leader of an active SEP who will provide first-hand knowledge, guidance, and technical assistance.  This structure is intended to foster regional collaboration, with active SEPs providing insight on region-specific drug use trends, best practices, and partner networks.

People interested in learning more about harm reduction and drug user health are warmly invited to apply independently. If you are an individual interested in participating the Academy but do not have a team to work with, please contact Leah Taraskiewicz at leahkt@unc.edu.

Why Syringe Exchange Programs? 

Based on harm reduction philosophy and practice, SEPs are evidence-based, compassionate, and cost-effective channels for engaging with people who use drugs (PWUD). These programs can provide education on safer use practices, prevent infections through access to syringes and injection supplies, and reduce overdose deaths. By primarily and nonjudgmentally addressing PWUD’s conditions of use—rather than drug use itself—SEPs foster trust, dialogue, and access to other medical and social services, including substance use disorder treatment.

Locations and Dates (teams choose one session in their region)

Greenville: April 14-16, 2020

Hickory: June 9-11, 2020

IFNC Academy Costs

  • No cost for registration, tuition, meeting space, or materials
  • No cost for breakfast, lunch, drinks, and snacks during in-person sessions
  • Each team will be responsible for accommodations (if necessary), dinners, and travel costs

Applications are due on Monday, February 24 at 5:00 pm. Teams will receive a response from the Injury-Free NC team by March 6.

Apply soon—space may be limited! Approximately 8-10 teams will be invited to participate in each session following the application review.

Have questions? Email Leah Taraskiewicz at leahkt@unc.edu

For more information and instructions on how to apply: 2020 Syringe Exchange Program Academy Information Packet + Application

Application (Word Document version)