One of the most successful programs at our agency is our Peer Delivered Syringe Exchange (PDSE) program.

The PDSE Program currently has eight peer positions, with one position focusing on advocacy and two positions dedicated specifically to our syringe exchange expansion in Hamilton Heights. Peer Educators are provided with one-on-one supervision, weekly group outreach meetings, professional development and training opportunities in addition to field-based mentorship. In the last year, we saw an increase of over 170% in our peer syringe encounters, representing 41% of all syringe exchange encounters for the entire agency (compared to 29% in 2012).

Peer educators are uniquely positioned to have access to the highest risk and isolated individuals and offer a warm hand off to services out of our office site. One major accomplishment this past year was the successful collaboration with our Nurse Practitioner to distribute naloxone kits in Hamilton Heights during May and June. Thanks to their combined efforts, more than 100 intranasal naloxone kits for overdose prevention were distributed over the course of the six outreach shifts. The PDSE program is valuable both for the organization and the individual peer educator.

Peer Educator Jay says that one thing he has learned so far is “how to stand in other people’s shoes so I understand why other people do what they have to do… I feel like a leader here.”