MaineHealth has received a $1.2 million federal grant for a statewide overdose and infection prevention program focused on harm reduction among syringe users.

The program is a collaboration between MaineHealth and several community organizations, including public health agencies, syringe service programs, academic institutions and other treatment providers.

It will provide clients of syringe service programs in Maine’s rural counties with harm reduction supplies, treatment for infectious diseases and wound care. The program will focus on underserved populations, including those at high risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis, providing increased blood screenings and information about pre-exposure prophylaxis medications that can prevent HIV.

Harm reduction outreach specialists will dispense fentanyl test strips and wound care kits, as well as naloxone to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses. They also will partner with Colby College to use spectrometry-based drug checking to help identify how much fentanyl and other contaminants are present in drugs circulating in Maine.

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