South Carolina has the nation’s eighth-highest rate of new HIV diagnoses. Community based, nonprofit SSP proves to be one of the best methods of decreasing new HIV infection rates.
Private insurance covered only 17% of the cost of hospital-based treatment for HIV in 2018. The balance was covered by Medicare (39.5%), Medicaid (27.8%) or billed to indigent/self-pay patients (15.7%). As a nonprofit 501c3, Challenges Inc greatly reduces the burden on tax payers in Easley, Spartanburg, and Greenville and surrounding areas.
In South Carolina, the average lifetime cost for treating one person living with HIV is $478,000 (in 2017 dollars).
For HCV, the lowest cost treatment option is currently $26,400 per year, but can be as much as $189,000 per year.
Each individual with HCV who injects drugs infects an average of 20 other people. Syringe Exchange is one of the most effective measures against this.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other national public health leaders view SSPs as a key component of a comprehensive strategy for combatting the nation’s opioid crisis and reducing the transmission of infectious disease, thereby saving lives and money. SSPs are safe, effective, cost-saving, do not increase illegal drug use or crime and are frequently supported by law enforcement officials and emergency workers. There is an estimated return on investment of $7.58 for every $1 spent for SSPs.
In January 2019, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) received verification from the CDC that South Carolina is at high-risk for HIV and HCV outbreaks due to increased opioid use and unsafe drug injection activities in the state. 34 This CDC response not only emphasizes the need that exists in South Carolina to fund SSPs, but also provides recommendations for implementing this effective public health intervention to address these co-occurring epidemics.
syringes in a sharps container for safe syringe disposal and syringe exchange services