Logo: Tacoma Needle Exchange

Tacoma Needle Exchange

The History of the Tacoma Needle Exchange

Our syringe exchange services began in 1988. Our founder, Dave Purchase, decided that he was going to help our community address the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic by providing new injection supplies to drug users, with the understanding that when a person uses a new syringe and injection supplies, they minimize the risks of contracting blood borne viruses associated with drug use. Additionally, Dave found that by providing these services to community members, he was able to build a level of trust, which allowed him to engage in deeper conversations with participants about their drug use, sex practices, and other issues.

We continue today to provide services using Dave’s model, asking that our participants do their best to bring their used injection supplies to the exchange sites to receive new ones. Our outreach staff has also developed strong working relationships with service providers throughout the South Puget Sound region, and when we cannot meet the immediate needs of a participant, we are often able to refer them to an appropriate provider.